The Dominion of Drunkenness

For all my Christian brothers and sisters in recovery…and, all those who might need to be!

https://churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/371061-the-dominion-of-drunkenness.html

Quick Update

First, an apology, I have not been posting much for the last couple months nor writing much, for those who are following God’s Word Is Life, I’m sorry. Just really busy with work and family.
Second, I promise to get back on the ball sharing encouragement, perspective, and biblical truth regarding life and recovery.
Third, a request. Please like, share, follow, and recommend both the Facebook page and the website godswordislife.com
Let’s get the message of renewal, hope, joy, and contentment to the world through the mercy and grace offered to us ALL through a relationship with our Creator Father through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus the Christ, and the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Thank you all for your support!

Reflecting on Thankfulness

During Thanksgiving, it always seems odd to me that we have a specific holiday to remind us to be grateful for our lives, our freedoms, and our blessings.

Thanksgiving is not a worldwide holiday. Canada has their own version of it, but I am not so sure about other countries.

In the US, the first Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621 as a religious and public time of prayer, worship, feasting and fellowship dictated by the Calvinist pilgrim magistrate, William Bradford, and joined by the native tribe in the area, lead by Chief Massasoit. It was a three day festival to celebrate the peace, provision, harvest, and grace given to the settlers during the previous year.

George Washington is the one who issued the first ‘national’ Thanksgiving proclamation. However, it wasn’t until 1941 that it was adopted as a national holiday.

However, shouldn’t we be grateful everyday?

Philippians 4:4-7 says,

Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

These are commands, not a suggestions, rejoice and don’t be anxious. They come with simple instructions on prayer, with the result of living serene and anxiety-free.

In AA, we are taught grateful alcoholics don’t get drunk and told, “if you’re not praying, you’re not staying (sober)”. I was taught to make a gratitude list and meditate on it, especially when feeling discouraged, down, or depressed. To remember what I am grateful for and what I stand to lose if I drink or use again. I had my top ten list. But, it was always the same ten. I didn’t really go beyond that for a long time.

Later, as a Christian, I started learning more about true thankfulness and praising God for his goodness and walking with me through my struggles.

A professor of mine really blew this door wide open for me with an assignment. Write down five things per day I am thankful for everyday for the 8 week term. The provisos, no repeats…! My top ten list lasted 2 days… In less than a week, I started to have trouble because all the big stuff and important people in my life were already on the list. I also found out quickly, I had to look back frequently to make sure I hadn’t already written something or someone down. I started to list some things that I had considered pretty mundane, but realized I was still thankful for them…things like pork egg rolls. The ability to occasionally purchase, eat, and enjoy pork egg rolls is something I appreciate…!

The more I wrote, the more I had to review what I wrote, the more grateful I became for each thing on my list, the more I praised God for all the blessings in my life!!!

It was powerful!

To be thankful every day for all the blessings and mercies in my life, from the most profound to the most overlooked and mundane, is how I need to live. Then, I am able to follow Paul’s command to rejoice always. Then, I am able to be content in any circumstance and not be anxious, because as Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through him who gives me strength.”

It all begins with THANKSGIVING every day!

H.O.W. It Works

I have said for many years, if someone, anyone, truly works the 12 steps they will come into a right understanding of a relationship with God and come to accept Jesus Christ as Savior. It doesn’t matter if they be atheist (as I once w claimed to be), agnostic, disillusioned, unchurched, oppressed, even other faiths, or worldviews. If we are totally honest, open-minded, and willing, to look at all the facts regarding creation, life, death, separation from God and its causes, our shortcomings, our relationships with others, and the claims that the Bible makes; we will become disciples of Jesus.

The keys to recovery, whether it be alcoholism, addiction of some sort, or anything the Scriptures frankly call sin, are Honesty, Open-mindedness, and Willingness. The three points of the AA triangle within the circle represent these three ideals.

If we seek recovery and a relationship with God living out these three principles to their fullest, we will invariably come to the same conclusions. If we short ourselves on any one of them, we will end up hitting a wall. This wall may not cause us to relapse in recovery, but it will stunt our growth spiritually regardless. Let’s take a closer look at these three principles and see how they affect our lives and how they can guide us into all truth objectively.

First, honesty. Looking at ourselves, no matter how well put together an individual seems to be, if we are honest, we are all muffed up in many ways. We all have our shortcomings, our defects of character, the places we injure ourselves or others, the things we cover up, justify, or outright lie about, the places we miss the mark of whatever objective or subjective mark of perfection set for us by ourselves, our society, or our belief system. For some, these may be extreme and outwardly obvious. For others, they may be more subtle. If we look at our various cultures, communities, countries, and our world; we can really see just how muffed up we can get.

If we honestly take stock, the Bible has one word that describes all of this, sin. There are many lists throughout Scripture, but there are two that really sum up all the rest… whether you agree with specific items or not, I ask you to simply consider them.

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! The sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, passive homosexual partners, practicing homosexuals, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, the verbally abusive, and swindlers will not inherit the kingdom of God.

1 Corinthians 6:9‭-‬10 NET https://bible.com/bible/107/1co.6.9-10.NET‬

Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, depravity, idolatry, sorcery (getting high on drugs), hostilities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish rivalries, dissensions, factions, envying, murder, drunkenness, carousing, and similar things. I am warning you, as I had warned you before: Those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God!

Galatians 5:19‭-‬21 NET https://bible.com/bible/107/gal.5.19-21.NET‬

These two lists sum up very well everything that causes any and every kind of harm we can cause to ourselves and others. The Scriptures are clear in both respects, these things separate us from God both now and have eternal consequences.

You may ask, why should I believe anything the Bible has to say? Other than looking at the truth of just these previous couple paragraphs, if you are willing and open-minded enough to give the Bible a fair shake, See also the attached article by Charlie Campbell, 10 Evidences for the Bible.

10 evidences

There is a Creator. Sin has separated us from him. The Scriptures say this,

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth by their unrighteousness, because what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made. So people are without excuse.

Romans 1:18‭-‬20 NET https://bible.com/bible/107/rom.1.18-20.NET‬

If we can honestly accept there is really a problem here. Guess what… God has also provided a solution to the problem. Jesus.

Are you open-minded enough to hear about him? Are you open-minded enough to hear about a loving Creator Father that wants a relationship with us? Are you open-minded enough to read a book that through the inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit was given to us to explain how glorious he really is and what he has done to have a relationship with us? Open-minded enough to hear how he has been working since creation to bring us, sinful, rebellious, imperfect human beings into a relationship with a perfect and holy God?
The Bible tells us…

For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world should be saved through him. The one who believes in him is not condemned. The one who does not believe has been condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God. Now this is the basis for judging: that the light has come into the world and people loved the darkness rather than the light, because their deeds were evil.

John 3:16‭-‬19 NET https://bible.com/bible/107/jhn.3.16-19.NET‬

You should have the same attitude toward one another that Christ Jesus had, who though he existed in the form of God did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, but emptied himself by taking on the form of a slave, by looking like other men, and by sharing in human nature. He humbled himself, by becoming obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross! As a result God exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow – in heaven and on earth and under the earth – and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:5‭-‬11 NET https://bible.com/bible/107/php.2.5-11.NET‬

because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and thus has righteousness and with the mouth one confesses and thus has salvation.

Romans 10:9‭-‬10 NET https://bible.com/bible/107/rom.10.9-10.NET‬

If we say we do not bear the guilt of sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:8‭-‬9 NET https://bible.com/bible/107/1jn.1.8-9.NET‬

If we are willing enough, we can break down all the barriers between us and God. If we are willing enough, we can bridge the gap. If we are willing enough, we can help others to do the same. We need to be willing to be open-minded. We need to be willing to honestly evaluate the facts and face the truth. We need to be willing to let go of ourselves and accept God on his terms, rather than making up our own.

Because of our sin, God sent his Son, Jesus, to live a perfect human life as God in the flesh. He died on the cross, convicted of crimes he did not commit as a holy sacrifice to make us right with God the Father, bridging the separation sin has caused. He rose from the dead, as both a symbol of his divinity and to raise all those who are willing to follow him into an eternal relationship with the Father and give us his Holy Spirit to live in and with us, so we can live in his image and show his sacrificial love to all the world.

Can you be honest enough to accept this truth about yourself and God? Are you open-minded enough to give all this information consideration or further your own search for the truth? Are you willing enough to do the hard work and soul searching to restore your relationship with God and follow Jesus?

Have faith, do good, show love, and do the next right thing!

May God bless you!

Glorifying God

When we love God, we should want to do things to glorify him.

Not to earn his love, but out of gratitude for his love for us. 1 John 4:19 says, “We love because he loved us first.” So, our motive in all we do should be to glorify God.

When we turn to live in God’s will, both as individuals and congregations, there is no amount of hurt that God will not heal, there is no transgression that God will not forgive. There is always hope when we rest on God and live according to his will.

More than 20 years ago, a dear friend and mentor to many in AA, gave me three short phrases that when put together remind me how to glorify God and how to have a vibrant, living, and growing faith, to them, I added the first one…

Your first phrase is “HAVE FAITH”.

Why have faith? Because withoutfaith it is impossible to please God. Hebrews 11:6 says, “Now without faith it is impossible to please him, for the one who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” We cannot glorify God unless first we have faith. But, have faith in what?

The Bible makes this very simple for us. Have faith in Jesus, who he is and what he did. Jesus, the Son of the Living God, himself God, lived, died, was buried, and rose again on the third day to make us right with God by taking the punishment for our sin, making it possible for us to have a relationship with God as our Father.

Why Jesus? Who is this Jesus guy anyway? The historical accounts written in the Gospels, which are confirmed by the letters of the New Testament, and outside historical sources confirm that Jesus really did exist. Jesus is the Son of God.

John 3:16 says, “For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”

God himself confirms that Jesus is his Son at Jesus’s baptism. We read in Matthew 3:17, “And, a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my one dear Son; in him I take great delight.’” If Jesus really is the Son of God as the Scriptures state, then he is the only one that has any authority and he says so, in Matthew 28:18. Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” And, he says in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

I could go on and on, but I think you get the point… Jesus is the only way to the Father, and it is through belief and faith in him, his saving work on the cross, and his resurrection that we are saved from an eternity without God.

Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so that no one can boast.” Remember, grace is the unearned, unmerited, gift of God, it is free and available to everyone. Romans 10:9-10 puts it in simple terms, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and thus has righteousness and with the mouth one confesses and thus has salvation.” Salvation is available to each of us. It is available to you. You can take this vital step, right now, where you sit. In your heart, have faith in Jesus, who he is and what he did. Agree with God that you’re not perfect and he is, and accept his love and forgiveness. Ask him to live in you and guide you from here on out. If you have done so, congratulations! You are on a new path to a vibrant and growing faith.

Once we “have faith” and have started our journey toward a vibrant, living, and growing relationship with our creator; we now have some work to do.

Your second phrase is “DO GOOD”.

Whoa, wait…, you just told me that I have to do something?! YES! In James 2:26, in a section on living a godly lifestyle, it says, “For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.” We work, not to earn God’s love. Not to earn salvation, because that is a gift of grace… Remember, we just looked at Ephesians 2:8-9, yet Paul tells us in the very next verse, verse 10 “For we are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we may do them.” This word, workmanship, in Greek means, handiwork or masterpiece. It is also where we get our English word, poem. We are built to be his poem, his masterpiece, and do his work. We also have a purpose, a purpose that he planned out for us. When we love God, our response to his love and grace should be that we want to glorify him. We glorify him through good works. We glorify God by showing others the same kind of grace that God has shown us. By being his Body at work here on Earth. The writer of Hebrews tells us “And let us take thought of how to spur one another on to love and good works,” (Hebrews 10:24) Here it is again, work. One more time, Paul told Titus, “showing yourself to be an example of good works in every way.”(Titus 2:7), as we boil this down, we are to “have faith”, we are also to “do good”.

There are many, many practical ways we can “do good” congregationally, individually, both for the Church and in outreach to the rest of the world. Brainstorm, you’ll easily come up with something…Make a habit of trying to do something good for someone else without being caught in the act and don’t tell anyone about it, pay it forward at every opportunity…

Our next phrase is, “SHOW LOVE”.

When the religious people of Jesus’s day tried to trap him with a question, Matthew 22:36-40, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” They asked this because in the law of Moses, all 613 commandments were to have equal weight, not just the big 10 at the beginning… Jesus instead answered in a way they could not dispute. He said, “Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” Have faith, do good, show love.

Jesus said, “I give you a new commandment – to love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. Everyone will know by this that you are my disciples – if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35) Here, Jesus is speaking specifically to his disciples, speaking directly to the Church. Telling them the first place that they should show love is between one another. So, for those of us who are disciples of Christ, where is the first place that we should show love? The first place that we show love is right here. Right here, in our local church, then to other believers outside of this local church in the global Church, then to the world at large. The command to love is repeated throughout the New Testament. John tells us that we love because God loved us first. This is agape love, unconditional love, love that surpasses understanding, Fruit of the Spirit love. If a member of our congregation is starving, but we take meals to the poor, what kind of people are we? It is very true; the millennials and Gen Z are very socially conscious generations and want to know what the church is doing for the oppressed and the heavy laden. They are also very conscious of when we don’t walk the talk coming out of our mouths. We need to work on building unity and promoting healing, inside our families, our congregations, our denominations, and the global Church.

Make no mistake though, love does NOT mean approval! Our culture has this point very confused… I can love you, I can show you the same love that Jesus has for you, I can show you mercy, forgiveness, love, and grace; but I do NOT have to approve of your behavior in order to do so. After all, God doesn’t approve of our behavior at times, but he offers us forgiveness and restoration because of his loving kindness.

So far, we’ve got “have faith, do good, show love”, now we add “DO THE NEXT RIGHT THING”.

But how do we know what the next right thing is???

In Scripture. Paul tells Timothy “Every scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the person dedicated to God may be capable and equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17) Here it is again, equipped for every good work. We have work to do. It is through knowledge of God’s word that we can discern what the next right thing is. We don’t all need to be Greek and Hebrew scholars of the original biblical text because God has used those people to give his Word to us in our own language, in many different translations, so that we can understand it. However, we do need to know the Word, if we are going to live according to God’s will for our lives.

Many people say, “I don’t need all that religious stuff, I don’t need to attend a worship service, I just need to follow the Ten Commandments.” Okay, can you name all ten? Do you realize those ten are the tip of the ice burg and that there are 613 commands in Exodus and Deuteronomy? Others may say, “Okay then, I try to live by the Golden Rule, treat others the way I want to be treated…” That’s a good start.

However, doing what is right in our own eyes, is not the same as living according to God’s will. As humans, we always miss the mark.

The point is we learn to live a life of obedience. Oops, I lost half of you right there with the word obedience. Well, even Jesus was obedient to the will of his Father, why should we be an exception?

There are a few places in Scripture where it comes right out and says, “This is the will of God.” For instance, 1 Thessalonians 4:3 and 5:17-18; other times it comes as a simple imperative command: Philippians 4:3, Ephesians 4:2, or Romans 12:16; other times it gives us a list of guidelines, what is beneficial and what isn’t: Galatians 5:19-26, 1 Corinthians 6. Sometimes, doing the next right thing is to do nothing at all, sometimes, it is to pray over a situation, but it is always a step of obedience to God’s will over our own will, especially when the Scriptures are clear on an issue.

JW von Goethe once said, “Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.” What in our lives have we known without applying and what have we said we have been willing to do without acting?

If someone came undercover… into our house, into our work place, followed us at the store, or in our car; if they were to ask those we run into or associate with on a regular basis, is there something different about us or are we just like everyone else? If they ask, could we be identified as a Christian by the way we act toward others and the things we do? What would the answers be?

I pray in each of our lives, we are able to have faith, do good, show love, and do the next right thing on a daily basis. If we are able to do so, we will be glorifying God in all we do and we will also stay on good terms with our fellows here on Earth.

Have a blessed day!

AA and Christianity: Can they co-exist?

The short answer is yes. But, for the Christian in AA, he or she must be careful.

I have been an active member of AA and continuously sober since 3-31-97, by the grace of almighty God. I have been a Christian since 5-2-01. So, I know both very well.

AA does not endorse any religion or specific spiritual system. However, the program was founded on Christian principles. As the program has aged, it has grown away from many of its Christian roots though.

In many meetings across the world, it is perfectly acceptable and encouraged to talk about your higher power. However, more and more, the name of Jesus is less welcome. So, for a Christian, openly sharing one’s faith or evangelizing is not welcome and at times, some groups can be openly hostile toward those who express Christian beliefs.

There is a saying around the tables, “go to AA to save your butt, go to church to save your soul.” There are many members of AA that have decades of sobriety that openly deny the name of Christ in favor of a generic god or higher power. Some use the “tables”, the fellowship, nature, etc as their higher power. Unfortunately, the truth of Scripture places these people in the lost category.

So, how can a believer in Christ survive in such an environment? First of all, it is the open-mindedness that AA teaches that made me open to the Gospel. Second, without using the name of Christ during the meeting, I am still able to share how God is working in my life and healing me. If anyone asks me about my spirituality, I am free to share the Gospel after the meeting or at coffee or elsewhere.

One thing to remember, religion is for people afraid to go to hell, spirituality is for those who want a thriving, living, growing relationship with the one true and living God through his Son, Jesus Christ. Religion is about rules, rules without a relationship equals rebellion. God wants a relationship with us.

I hope this helps someone struggling to live out their faith while conquering their addictions.

Also, Celebrate Recovery, though limited in scope, is an excellent way to openly share your faith while getting the support you need.

I highly recommend mixing all three; your church, AA, and Celebrate Recovery, to have the best chance of recovering from alcoholism or addiction. That is what I do…