There are a number of things I hate, but one thing in particular. I guess that comes as a surprise to those of you who know I’m a christian. After all, christians aren’t supposed to hate anything are they? Aren’t we supposed to be loving, kind, tender-hearted, sensitive, patient, long-suffering? We’re not supposed to be angry as christians or are we? This might be the subject for a good word study on “anger” and another on “hate” in your Bible if you’re not sure. You may be surprised at what you find, but you’ll have to study it for yourself. I don’t think I should tell you what the Bible says or what a particular verse means, and you shouldn’t take my word concerning the Word of God. You should look to Him and let Him answer.
So what is the thing I hate in particular? If you’ve read my blog for any length of time you know that I’ve struggled with alcohol. Actually, it wasn’t much of a struggle. I just laid down and took it. Now, if you’re still reading this then you’ve got one up on those who have already clicked off when they saw the word “alcohol,” and said to themselves, “I ain’t gonna read this . . . ” There’s a good chance that you’ve lived with it long enough to know that it’s a contentious, demanding, unrelenting wife who doesn’t care anything about you, and only wants what she wants. I apologize to the married women out there who I’ve just insulted, but as any alcoholic knows the analogy is barely the beginning of it when it comes to describing a long-term relationship with alcohol.
Some men can be highly functioning in their relationship with alcohol being able to work-often times at a high level-and still maintain relationships with others-at least on the surface. I wasn’t one of them. I was barely functioning, much less high functioning. I can hear your silent objection even as I’m writing this, “Well, you couldn’t handle it, ” you say, and you’re right. I couldn’t, but in the beginning I could, in the middle I could, and then it was only toward the end that I realized I hadn’t handled it at all. Any thought of control is a lie, an illusion, and the fact that you’re still reading this indicates that on some level you’re aware of it.
A lot of people, especially the modern-day helpers, like to blow smoke (fill in your own phrase) at alcoholics. There’s a lot of clinics and programs out there geared to helping alcoholics quit drinking, but quitting drinking is like divorcing an abusive spouse. Just because you don’t feel the punch, hear the cussing, doesn’t mean you haven’t already felt it, and been damaged by it, that you still can’t hear the curse words being yelled at you. Sorry, for the image, I’ve just created, but this post isn’t about being PC. It’s about being real, and being true, and about saying what needs to be said whether you like it or not.
At the time, I couldn’t see it, at least not very clearly, but what helped me, and what helps anyone is a recognition of the truth; simple, unvarnished, in-your-face, God-breathed truth. I’ve known a lot of people who drank, many of them like me. How was I able to quit when the others didn’t? I can tell you it wasn’t through self effort, or taking some magic pill. It was through a confession. Nobody wants to hear that. Nobody wants to believe that a confession can change someone’s life, and they’re 99% right. A lot of people confess to a lot of things, and don’t change one wit. How many times have you heard someone say “I’m sorry,” and turned right around and did the same thing again?
It’s not that I confessed, but to who I confessed, and what I confessed. You’ve heard it many times before; seen it on any number of tracts. “God, I’m a sinner. My life is a mess. I can’t help myself. If You don’t help me I know I’m going to die. I believe in Your Son, Jesus Christ, and that He died for me. Please help me.” He did. I don’t blame anyone for thinking that something like that happening is just crazy. To any rational, intelligent human being saying something like that just doesn’t make any sense, but it’s not supposed to.
I know what I was and where I was, and I know where I’m at now. I know the change that took place, and continues to take place. I gave up drinking, and never took another one. There were many times when the thought of taking one crossed my mind, but I just wasn’t that person anymore. Back then, I had two issues I was trying to deal with by drinking: fear and control. Today, I trust my Lord and put the issues of fear and control in His hands.
I hate alcohol; beer, liquor. I hate it because I know what it does to people. How it affects their thinking and their actions. I hate the illusion it creates, and how it blinds people to the things and people around them. I know what it does to marriages, the damage it causes to families, and how it destroys its host. I also know that it doesn’t have to continue, and that it can be overcome by the love of Christ.
One of the best things ever written on the subject and it’s consequences is located here: http://biblebelievers.com/billy_sunday_booze.html It’s still true, and it still stands.
Sometimes, I think there are too many people who believe that they’re the only ones who have the proper interpretation of God and His word as revealed by the Holy Spirit and that nobody else can be right.
I’m not going to judge, correct, or openly rebuke others unless I know someone is clearly teaching false doctrine. To judge sin and whether someone is sinning is not something I’m comfortable with. I’m too fallible to ever think that what I know and that what I’ve experienced is a solid enough platform from which I can stand and judge others.
I’m not going to try and correct the faults of others when my own are just as bad and just as much against God as theirs. I think the Holy Spirit has enough work to do in helping me deal with my own faults and shortcomings. I believe I have a responsibility to love people, to pray for them, to encourage and support people in their walk with Christ.
When are people going to learn that santification is a process, that learning how to walk, how to live in a way that pleases, honors, and glorifies God is a life long process. I will not put stumbling blocks in the way of people who are sincerely doing the best they can to follow Christ. To me to try to correct people that I’m no better than smacks of hypocrisy, pride, and unbelievable arrogance.
If people want to do that, if they think it’s their responsibility to judge and correct people then they should follow the dictates of their own hearts and minds, and to follow the Spirit as they feel He leads.. As for me, I will continue to live my life and walk with Christ as I feel the Spirit leads me. I will continue to use the tools and resources that I believe God has provided and led me to in order to spread His love and promote His kingdom.
I reserve the right as a freeborn American and Christian to assess and analyze anything that comes into contact with my life and the lives of my family, and to determine whether or not I wish to let that content have any influence on me or my family. There are some places I won’t go, some things I won’t read, view, or listen to because I don’t feel that they honor God, and I don’t personally agree with. Those who read my blog have the same rights and privileges. If people don’t like what they read here or disagree with the content they are under no obligation to spend time here.
I think I will be surprised, as many will, when I get to heaven and realize that I’m standing along side many of the people I disagreed with on earth singing and praising God. I believe I will see a vast number of people of different ethnic, social, and educational backgrounds enjoying the wonders of Heaven given to them by their glorious God who holds each of us in the palm of His hand, and who enwraps us all in His everlasting arms.
Did you know that the men of this country are under attack, and that many of them have been destroyed, and the people around them destroyed as well? Did you know that our young boys are being targeted before they’re even old enough to know that they’re under attack? Do you know why they’re being attacked, and how, and that the method of attack is so devious and so subtle that our men and boys are being taken out before they have any awareness of what’s going on?
Why would anyone want to destroy men in our country? What would be the purpose? Think about it. In order to answer those questions I believe it’s of vital importance to talk about what a man is, and why he’s important. What is a man? King David asked the question this way in Psalms 144:3 “Lord, what is man, that thou takest knowledge of him! or the son of man, that thou makest account of him!” People have been pondering this ever since.
So what is man? Man is a spiritual, moral being. He was created, and intended to be this. Creation is the first and foremost witness of the creator. To deny the Creator is to look up at the night-time sky with its’ billions of stars twinkling overhead, and say you can’t see them. Man, as a created being, cannot be and will not be a man in the way God designed him apart from his spiritual and moral development. He was made in the image of God, and the more man denies the imprint of the God who created him, and the further away he moves from that knowledge, the more he devolves into a being of little worth and little virtue.
Why is man important? What is his purpose? From the dawn of creation, these questions have been pondered and debated, and the fact they have been so is a witness to the ignorance and inability of man on his own to see what’s right in front of him. There’s no great mystery, no indiscernible theory, to contemplate here because the answer has been implanted in the heart of man since his Creator breathed the breath of life into his dust-formed body. At the risk of oversimplification, man is important because God made him. God made him in his image, as a representation of all that is holy, good, and perfect. The purpose of man is to display the glory and perfection of God in all of His unequaled love and holiness.
To look at man in view of what he was intended to be, and what he is now is to see what happens when God is set aside and the things of God ignored. Man’s downfall and his subsequent degeneration wasn’t due, as some believe, to Eve’s taking and eating of the apple. Nowhere in the Bible does it say sin entered into the world through Eve, or that it was Eve’s sin that precipitated the downfall of man. It was through Adam that sin entered the world, and through sin (which is rebellion against God) that the true nature of man was and is corrupted.
Man, being corrupted, had lost his value, and was worthless for the purpose which God intended, and would have remained so had not God in His infinite love not made a way for man to be redeemed. Man, in and of himself, had no way to save himself, could do nothing to earn his redemption. Like mold on bread, sugar in gas, man’s corrupted nature had to be thrown out and replaced. Only a perfect representation of what man was intended to be could restore corrupted man to his God intended condition, and so Christ Jesus took the sin that corrupted man on himself, and paid the price of sin by his death on the cross and His resurrection thus offering man the gift of restoration to what he was originally intended to be. God made the way for man to be redeemed, but left man with the choice whether or not to be so.
Now, I’ve said that men are under attack, and that’s true, but if that’s true, then it’s truer still that the man who follows Christ is even more so. Every man makes a decision about the man he’s going to be. Either he decides he’s going to choose to be the man God intended by taking the gift God offered through his son, or continue to live in the corruption he was born into.
Now, we live in a country where I think that the kind of man God intended for man to be is being attacked in a way never before seen in history. Think about it. Look at the corruption in our society, in government, in business, in religion; in the way that men are constantly and incessantly being bombarded with every form of vice that can be hurled at them. In our society, a man is not a man if he doesn’t drink, make a lot of money, look rough and tough, be sexy and attractive, and be powerful in bed and in the boardroom.
The secret destroyer of men in our society is the forever enemy of God, and he’s alive and well. Men are being destroyed in this country. Make no doubt of it. They’re being destroyed not by sex or alcohol, or the love of money though they are the destroyer’s favorite tools, but rather they are being destroyed by those who are trying to destroy the Definer, the one who defined His creation and gave man his true idenity. The sucess of the destroyer is the result of our failure to be vigilant, to be forthright, to be courageous, to be the full representation of what God called us to be.
I say this again. The men of this country are under attack, and I say the following to all christian men: if we don’t unite and take our responsibility to be what God designed and calls us to be seriously our country will fail. Christian men we must be willing to stand in front of our children and fight for them. We must live before our boys as Christ lived before us. We, as men of God, must stand firm in our belief and love of our Creator, our children, and ourselves. If our country is to survive and remain great, we must have and train our men to be great . . . .
It’s interesting how times have changed since I was a young boy looking up at my father, and the other men who were around me when I was growing up. To me there’s a big difference between the men of those days, and the role they played, and the ones I see today.
The definition of what it is to be a man, and the role men play in society has changed since then, and, in my view, not for the better. When I look at the men around me now days I can’t help but feel disappointed and saddened at what I see. Let me be clear. When I say that I’m disappointed and saddened by what I see, it’s in view of the values and characteristics used today to define what a man is, and what his role in society should be.
It’s interesting how society in general has changed it’s perception of what a man is, and his role in the world, but even more so in the way that the men of today define themselves and the role they play. Ask ten men what it is to be a man, and the role they should play in society, and you’ll get ten different answers.
It seems there’s a lot of confusion when it comes to the subject of men today on the part of society and even within themselves, and I believe it’s that confusion that’s causing some men to not only question their identity, and their role, but also their expression of those things. I remember a time when many men defined themselves by a set of values and standards that were very clear.
A man defined himself, not by his physical strength, but by his willingness to use it in service to his family and to others. He defined himself in the way he carried himself with pride. Not a shallow, vain, self-effacing sort of pride, but a pride based upon his willingness to meet and carry responsibility with modesty and humility. Being honest and trustworthy and dependable were the qualities he treasured, not only in himself but in others. His commitments and his word were his bond, and he honored them. He relied upon himself, his family, his neighbors, and most importantly his God.
He measured himself by his sense of justice, fairness, compassion and mercy, and not by the size of his wallet, or the breadth of his chest. In short there were three things he loved above all others, and they were God, family, and country, and if you wanted to make him mad enough to fight then you attacked one of these.
Yet, as important as all the above was, and is; those things weren’t what truly defined him. What truly defined him was his willingness to sacrifice. That’s right. Sacrifice. I realize that a lot of men reading this will sneer, and tell themselves that I’m full of it, but I stand by what I said. I hate to use the word “real” because so few people anymore actually have a sense of what it (really) is, but there’s a difference between what it is true and what is false, so I’ll say it this way. A true man is someone who will sacrifice his wants, needs, dreams, even his life for something that is greater than himself. A true man will put himself last instead of first.
It’s a great sadness to me that so many men seem to define themselves by the way they look as if six-pack abs, a bottle of hair gel and tattoos make them men. Then there are the ones who think that having a lot of money and power make them men. Then you have the ones who define themselves by how well they can play video games and sports. Worst of all are the ones who think that sexual prowess with a multitude of women, and having the ability to beat the hell out of another man makes them more of one.
These are certainly definitions, and there are a number of men that certainly define themselves in these ways. There’s only one problem. The definitions above aren’t those of a man, but of boys. I’ve absolutely nothing against boys. I was one myself, and I understand a boys’ need to distinguish himself, to discover who he is, to find his place in the world, but at some point boys should grow up.
Boys live in the realm of me and I, and suffer eye trouble in the sense that they’re shortsighted. They can’t see much beyond themselves. It may surprise you to know that men suffer from a form of shortsightedness, too. So what’s the difference? Men don’t see themselves at all. Men not only have the ability to see beyond themselves, but the willingness to sacrifice themselves on the behalf of others.
One of the tragedies in our society is the devaluing of men, and their role in it. In part, the reason for why men are being devalued is simply because there has been a failure to live up to the definition of what, I think, it is to be a man. I believe it’s a combination of things that have contributed to this, but regardless of the reasons, the result is that we now have a preponderance of boys in our society.
Our society in many ways mocks, and makes a laughing-stock out of the man’s role, and we do so to our harm. If we don’t start teaching our young boys what it is to be true men, our country won’t be able to stand because there won’t be men of strength and character to lead and protect it.
I’ve been watching the Wall Street protests, and I’ve noticed a few things. One of the things I’ve noticed is in the beginning the vast majority of protesters were young people between the ages of 18-25. Now I’ve noticed that several different unions and organizations have moved into the protest, and even some government officials have stated support for them.
As always when I have a question about someone or thing, I like to look at motives or what’s going on behind the scenes. The truth is that few people do anything without benefit to themselves, so what are the unions and government officials getting out of supporting them?
Another thing I’ve noticed is that there doesn’t seem to be an overriding issue that these protestors are gathering around. What exactly are they protesting against? Are they protesting capitalism? Most of them as well as everyone living in America have benefited from capitalism. Don’t they realize that the devices they’re using to communicate are the result of that system? I’ve seen almost every cause imaginable protested on some sign or other, so I ask you exactly what are they protesting?
I have no doubt that there are some really scared and sincere people there who love this country and truly believe they are doing the right thing. I commend them for standing up for what they feel is right, but I wonder what does defecating on the hood of a taxi-cab have to do with the protest? What about having public sex? Some people like to say that the Wall Street protesters are the same as the tea party. I beg to differ. The tea party was organized, they had a central issue, and every demonstration was carried out respectfully within a designated period of time, not to mention that there were no arrests in any of those events to my knowledge.
It seems to me that this group of people is being exploited by others for their own purposes. I realize that people are worried, and that they’re fearful about the future, but I fail to see how protesting Wall Street is going to change anything. Protesting capitalism, in my view, is a lot like killing a cow because somebody got a bad bottle of milk. It just doesn’t make sense.
Just because people and companies abuse a system does not mean that the system itself is broken. It’s not the system that needs to be done away with, but rather the people who abused it. I didn’t agree with bailing out Wall Street, or for that matter bailing out anyone. I think people as well as businesses should be responsible for themselves.
It bothers me when I hear talk about taking from the rich to give to the poor. It sounds good in theory, but would you want someone to take away what you worked and sweated for. Would you want someone else to decide how much money you could earn or what you could spend it on? I’m sorry, but I don’t.
I think it’s wrong to call these people names and to demonize them just as it’s wrong to exploit them. These people as all people have a right to be heard and to be treated fairly, but shouldn’t they as all people communicate a clear message and present themselves with dignity?
If there’s oe thing I know, it’s that suffering in one form or another is a universal experience. We’ve all had to deal with it at one time or another. No one escapes. As someone who has lived with chronic pain for years, I understand the effects of living with pain on the mind and the body. I can tell you that I’ve had many a sleepless night pondering the question of “Why.” I’ve learned through that experience that asking “why” can take you down a long road and to a lot of different places, but ultimately it leads to a dead-end.
For myself, I know that a part of what I’m living through is a consequence of something I did. Actions have consequences. That’s the painful, ugly truth, and not admitting it doesn’t make it any less true. Am I saying that all my suffering is a result of bad decision-making? No. Nor is anyone’s. I can tell you that asking the question of “why” only exacerbates and prolongs what is already painful. Every answer to “why” invariably leads down the road of blame where the passengers of anger, guilt, and shame climb in the cab with us. Often asking the question of “why” can trap us in a quagmire of paralyzing emotion.
That’s not to say that asking the question of “why” isn’t important and even necessary. I don’t think there’s anyone who hasn’t ever asked the question, and I think it’s important to do so. It’s so easy when suffering to get caught up in thinking that it’s our fault, that we either did or didn’t do something; if we’d only done that instead of this. “What did I do?”, “Am I so bad?”, “I don’t deserve this.” Trust me when I tell you that I’ve gone through the gamut of emotions and questions.
I don’t have all the answers, but let me tell you some things that have helped me. The first is it’s okay to ask “why.” I believe God is big enough to handle the question. I believe it’s all right to say “this sucks,” and “I don’t like it.” I think God is big enough to handle our anger, pain, and frustration. I think to deny what we feel is to deny our humanity, but even more than that I believe that God desires for us to come to Him with these things. I don’t believe that my suffering with pain is God’s way of saying, “I’m going to get you. I’m going to make you pay.” I don’t believe God in Heaven is up there just waiting to pick people off.
If that were the case, why did He send His son to die for our sins? Why take our guilt and shame upon himself? If God were to do such things and to treat people in that way where would His justice, mercy, and compassion be? The reason why Jesus died was to put an end to our suffering, our guilt and shame, and even death itself.
I don’t pretend to know or have all the answers. I’m not going to try to explain God or why He does what He does, or allows what He allows. I don’t know, and neither will you. There are some questions we will never know the answer to in this life, and that’s all there is to it. The thing that gives me hope, the reason I have faith is that God has revealed Himself to me in His work in and through my life. I have experienced His love and grace firsthand. I know where I was, I know where I am now, and I know where I will be, and I know He walks with me every step of the way.
A Thought on Meditation
What comes to mind when you think of the word meditation? In my mind I see this person sitting cross legged on the floor, eyes closed, humming and trying desperately not to think of anything. The idea I guess is to empty one’s mind in order to find peace. I suppose that’s good in theory, but difficult to do in reality. In my reality anyway.
For one thing, I’ve never been very good at not thinking, and that bothers me because I see so many around me who don’t think, and they seem to get along quite well without it. Now, I will admit to having stumbled into the “not thinking” zone on occasion, but what frustrates me is I can’t seem to stay there with any kind of regularity. Perhaps it’s a lack of focus or something, but “emptying the thought well” for me is a lot like bailing water out of a boat with a hole in it.
Fortunately, for me, mediation isn’t so much an emptying of my mind, as it is a filling. It’s not a random filling of just anything that makes an impression on me throughout the day. Rather, it’s an intentional filling in which I fill my mind with only one thing, and then pour all my concentration into it, until it becomes the only thing I think about. Now there are many people who meditate, and are highly successful, but their success didn’t come solely from their ability to meditate, but rather from what they meditated on.
You’ve heard the saying that goes, “you are what you eat?”
Well, truth is, you are what you think about. Now I don’t imagine that’s a very comforting thought for a lot of people, but I wonder how we would view people if we could see their inner thought life as if they were captions floating above their heads. Maybe a better question would be how would we really view ourselves if we could see our own thought life in the same way.
I don’t know about you, but knowing my thoughts would be open to others would certainly make me pause and consider them more carefully.
This may come as a surprise, but we’re all a product of our thought life. We like to think we can hide our thoughts from others, but the truth is we hide very little. Our speech, our actions, our possessions, are all a reflection of our thoughts, and chart the direction our lives will take, and that leads me back to where I began with: meditation.
Meditation in and of itself is no guarantor of success or happiness, but it’s what we meditate on that gives our lives meaning.. The Bible says that, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Now that’s something to meditate on.
A Debt of Love
A while back, I had the honor to give back to a woman who had given to me. To truly repay her for what she gave me in the way of time and attention and sacrifice, wasn’t possible, but I had to try. I’ve always felt that those of us who have been fortunate enough to receive the love of others have a debt to be paid. A debt of love.
Now there are those who don’t think they owe anybody anything; that there’s no debt to repay. Perhaps that’s true, but I can’t seem to accept it. To my parents, I certainly feel indebted, though they’d tell me I’m not, but when I think of all they’ve given I can’t help but feel that there’s a debt there.
Then there are the myriad of others who in one way or another gave of themselves, and in the process, gave me a piece of the puzzle that was to eventually become the person I am today. Now, I’m far from perfect-anyone who knows me can attest to that-but I’m far better than I would have been had I not been given those gifts I received down through the years.
I think of my country. This land of freedom that has given it’s men and women an opportunity to go as far as their dedication, determination and talent would take them. I know in my heart, no other country on earth is as great. I think of those brave men and women who came so long ago in search of a new life; a life in which they could be free to worship God as they chose, and who could prosper from their own hard work. This freedom means everything, and it saddens me so many take it for granted, and fail to realize and appreciate the people who have paid for it. How can I not feel that I owe a debt to this country, and the men and women who have served it?
Without shame or apology, I say to everyone reading this that, I believe, we all have a debt to repay. The sad truth is too many of us don’t feel like we owe anyone anything. Too many of us have forgotten the things that make this country great, and the people who helped to make us what we are. To those of us who have been fortunate enough to experience the love of a parent, grandparent, or teacher, I tell you that I believe you owe a debt that must be repaid.
It’s ironic that we live in a country so mired in debt that even our grandchildren’s children won’t be free of it, and where the majority of it’s citizens live by it’s example, and yet the most important debt we have is the one we think the least about and that’s simply to love.
Of all the tragic things that have happened to our country, the most tragic is that we’ve failed to uphold and perpetuate the traditions and core values that have made our country the bastion of freedom it’s supposed to be. We’ve become a nation of people who love themselves far more than they ever loved the God who guided them to it’s shores.
Sadly, we’ve become a nation only too willing to embrace every form of wickedness. We’ve perverted every honorable and decent thing we’ve ever done. We pay lip service to our country’s motto, “In God We Trust” but in our minds and hearts we are far from Him. We’ve shown how willing we are to remove any and every vestige of Him, not only from our hallowed institutions, but from the very fiber of our beings as well. We, as a country and a people, are failing to pay our debt of love by failing to honor the God we supposedly pay homage to, and by our failure to live by the example of His Son.
I wonder how long we can afford to do so.