Tag Archives: drugs

The Shackles of Addiction

The Shackles of Addiction

The LORD is known by the judgment which he executeth: the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands. Higgaion. Selah.  Psalm 9:16

The evil works we are addicted to snares or shackles us.  When we are doing what we feel makes us free, we may be in fact locking ourselves up in a trap.  Chaining ourselves to a habit.

“Snared” is an old Hebrew word that according to Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary means “a noose (for catching animals) (literally or figuratively): by implication, a hook (for the nose):–be ensnared, gin, (is) snare(-d), trap.”

Wow there is a lot to unpack in that definition.  Here are a few vivid pictures of snaring (and addiction) to consider.

  • Addictions are a “noose” that suffocates real life out of us.
  • Addictions are a “hook” that stabs into us to catch us like we may catch a fish.
  • Addictions are a “gin”, engine or mechanism, used to trap us.
  • Addiction are a “trap” in which when we fall into, it is difficult to get out of.

Unless you purpose in your heart, seek accountability with others, and receive competent counsel from a counselor, it is very difficult to released yourself from the addition.

Addicts need help.  Get help.

The first step to recovery is admitting: “I need help.”

Please give me a call this week.  I would be honored to help you overcome the addition.

With God, all things are possible!  Choose freedom from the chains of addiction that are holding you down.

 

 

 

 

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In Search of Contentment, Pt. 4

Find the Strength of Jesus in You. (vs.13)

What an incredible statement: “I can do all things through Christ…” This well-known verse is many times taken out of context or stretched to imply things that it is not truly dealing with.

The doing of “all things” is not accomplished by your own power, intellect, ability, or willpower.  It is accomplished by the power of God.

Being content is a choice founded upon the strength of Jesus.  Many people are in search of contentment but may not even see that the underlying drive in their life is the need for contentment.  They may turn to a relationship in search of being content or satisfied.  They may turn to drugs, vaping, alcohol, pornography, or some other addiction in search of fulfillment.

What happens is the relationship, the addiction, or the perceived “need” then becomes a controlling factor in their life.  Instead of finding contentment, they find themselves enslaved to the “need” for more of their “medicine” or, in reality, poison.

Christianity Today, in their March 2019 magazine, featured the testimony of a former NFL player named Miles McPherson who played for the San Diego Chargers from 1982-1985.  As he tells his story, he had everything a person could want: a well-paying job, a dream come true to play professional sports, the high life of an elite few in the world, playing in the NFL.  But something was still missing in his life.

At a party with many veteran players, the men he looked up to as a child, he was offered drugs.  He said about that experience: “The cocaine that I consumed that night took me by the lapels and forced me into submission.  Soon enough I was completely under it’s control.”

Miles knew several Christians on the team, and they were vocal about their faith and about the power of Jesus to set people free from their sin and addictions.  One morning, after a day and night of drugs, no sleep, and a complete inability to say “no” of his own power to the drugs, he realized that it was Jesus Who had the power for the “no.”  That morning, in desperation he prayed to Jesus for salvation and asked God to deliver him from the power of the drugs.  And God did.

Something changed in him that day.  From that point on, he did not take any more cocaine or other drugs.  God changed him.  In the power of Jesus’ name, the addiction was gone.  Powerful story.

Instead of searching for contentment in drugs, relationships, the workplace, or some other aspect of life, it is possible to find contentment in Jesus.

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”  All things include contentment.  It includes the power to overcome addictions and to see life in a new “God Dimension.”   Instead of relying on your own power to be a winner, rely on the Lord Jesus.

The Apostle Paul had God’s power in his life to find contentment: in the court house, in the jail house, in a crowded ship, in a church, and in a home.  He found contentment when he was hungry and thirsty as well as when he was full and well-hydrated.  In poor health and in good health, he was happy in Jesus.  With no money or some money, he was content in the name of Jesus.

Ask the Lord for His power to help you find contentment in the midst of your present situation.  With His power, you can have the same life but see it in a whole new way.   God’s power can give a “God Dimension” to you.

 

Please read on to PART 5 of In Search of Contentment

 

 

 

The Handcuffs of Sin

His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins.  Proverbs 5:22

Today I came across this verse in a counseling session.  I read it in a previous time.  The part “he shall be holden with the cords of his sins” was already underlined in black ink.

The word “holden” means to “sustain, keep fast, or retain.”   This verse is teaching how that a wicked person who is willfully committing sin is actually binding himself with his sin.  Sin becomes a controlling factor in our human experience.  Here the sin, like cords wrapped around a person’s wrist is confining this person.  In other words, this person’s sin is handcuffing him.   Even though sin may be enjoyed – for a season – it will eventually chain you to its will and confine you to it’s desires.

Sin is very captivating.  Sometimes a person does not even recognize how their sin is actually holding them back and retaining them in a “holding tank.”  Think about how a drug addict can no longer think clearly.  Her body is conditioned to “need” the next hit of drugs.   The male addicted to pornography may not think it is hurting him, but his relationship with his wife is not what it could be because of the nurturing of lust in his heart.  The angry couple can be blinded to the hatred in their heart because of unconfessed bitterness that is controlling and affecting every area of life and relationships.

Instead of allowing sin to take us captive and handcuff us, we should take captive our thoughts ourselves – with the mind of Jesus.  One of my favorite verses I use in counseling sessions to encourage, motivate, and equip people to have victory over sin is 2 Corinthians 10:5.  Here Paul states: “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ…”

Imagine that.  Bring every thought into obedience to Jesus Christ.  Get the Word of God in your life.  It is like the key to unlock the handcuffs of sin.  Let Jesus captivate your heart and mind.  It will change your life!   You will experience more freedom than you thought possible when you devote your life to what is right!

What can I do to get uncuffed?

  1. Confess your sin.  Let Jesus know about it – from your own confession.
  2. Repent of sin.  More than confession, repentance is a turning around from the sin.  It is choosing to go a totally new direction than the way the sin was taking you.
  3. Enjoy Forgiveness.  Thank the Lord that when we confess our sin and turn from it in repentance, the Lord totally forgives us.  Psalm 103:12 says, As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.  Thank the Lord for that!

Get out of the handcuffs of sin today.

 

 

 

Where Do You Find Happiness?

Where Do You Find Happiness?

I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High.

Psalm 9:2

One of my favorite childhood songs from children’s church is called, “Happiness is the Lord.”  Lindsay Terry tells the following story as to how this wonderful song came about.

“Ira F. Stanphill was born in Belview, New Mexico, in 1914. He has written more than 550 songs, the most popular of which are “Mansion over the Hilltop,” “Room at the Cross,” and, of course, “Happiness Is the Lord.”

On any number of occasions the Lord has given a song to a songwriter when he or she least expected it. Such was the case of Ira Stanphill one afternoon in 1974 after he left the church office where he was pastor in Fort Worth, Texas.

The car radio was on, and as he rode along he listened to some commercial programs. Some were sponsored by establishments that advertised their “happy hour” and their alcoholic beverages. He also heard cigarettes being advertised in terms of how they bring happiness.

The word happiness was used several times in the ads. Ira related to me that he thought at the time that “happiness does not come with these things, but with knowing Christ.” He continued, “As this thought really took over my mind I began to sing. I sang a new song, composing words and melody as I drove along. I sang it almost as it is published today.””

The words are accompanied by a cheerful tune.  In it this song says,

Verse 1
Happiness is to know the Savior
Living a life within His favor
Having a change in my behavior
Happiness is the Lord

Verse 2
Happiness is a new creation
Jesus and me in close relation
Having a part in His salvation
Happiness is the Lord

(Bridge)
Real joy is mine
No matter if teardrops start
I’ve found the secret
It’s Jesus in my heart

Verse 3
Happiness is to be forgiven
Living a life that’s worth the livin’
Taking a trip that leads to heaven
Happiness is the Lord

(Ending)
Happiness is the Lord
Happiness is the Lord

No matter what circumstances you find yourself in today, my friend, the Lord is the Who, What, and the Where that you can find real happiness.  In poor health?  Have an overwhelming situation? Are you having a tough time coping with a loss, or a major disappointment?  In the midst of your situation, it is possible to find, peace, contentment, happiness, and gladness.  Like the Psalmist declares in Psalm 126:3, when we count our blessings we can say, “The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.”

No Safe Alcohol

No Safe Alcohol

An August 24 report concluded after extensive study “there’s no safe level of alcohol consumption.”  Millions of cases from 200 countries indicated that 1 in 10 deaths are actually -alcohol related.  “Any protective health effects of alcohol were offset by the drink’s risks:” including cancer, car wrecks and more.  “The widely held view of the health benefits of alcohol needs revising.” The lead scientist said.  Look up the Chris Carbone report carried by Fox News for more information.

This scientific report concluded something the Bible has already been telling us for thousands of years – avoid alcohol.

Some Christians, when misreading or not understanding the textual and historical context of various Bible passages will stretch the Word to allow (in their mind) for consuming alcohol.

For example: 1 Timothy 5:23 where Paul tells Timothy: Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.

Paul would not suggest to Timothy to stop drinking poisonous and putrid water to go find some fermented and rotting juice that has become alcohol.  That is like saying: “stop drinking that poison, try this poison instead.”  This is stretching the passage to fit a permissive lifestyle.

  • Fresh grape juice is what Timothy drank. The health benefits of grape juice is well documented.
  • Fresh grape juice is what Jesus made out of water.  The wedding celebrants in Cana commented on the fresh drink tasting better than the old or fermented drink.
  • Fresh grape juice will not get a person drunk or cause them to violate all the prohibitions of the Bible against alcohol.
  • Reading in context a person can discern if “wine” in the Bible is fresh or fermented.

The very first mention of wine is in Genesis 9 when Noah becomes drunk. Other sins stem from his drunkenness. Not a good first mention.

The word “Wine” is the Greek word “oinos” that has a Hebrew origin.  It means wine that is either “literally or figuratively, wine.”  I have always understood from Bible classes and training that “wine” means “fruit of the vine” or “juice of the vine.”

There is a big difference in the “New Wine” and the “Old Wine” in the Bible. The difference is Fresh verses Fermented.

Please prayerfully read and consider the following passages:

  • Proverbs 20:1 Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.
  • Proverbs 23:31-33 Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. 32 At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. 33 Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things.
  • Proverbs 31:4-5 It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: 5 Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.

Be encouraged to “live like a king – don’t drink alcohol!”

For those hoping there is more about this in the Bible – there is.  We are told the only 2 good uses of alcohol in Proverbs 31:6-7.  And here you will note, it is not for pleasure, fun, celebrations, social events, or to have a “good time.”

Proverbs 31:6-7 teaches, Give strong drink (Alcoholic wine) unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. 7 Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.

  1. Men on Death Row. These men were heavy of heart for their crimes and impending judgment.  Right before public execution, many were given alcohol. Commentator Adam Clark noted: “Inebriating drinks were mercifully given to condemned criminals, to render them less sensible of the torture they endured in dying.” When Jesus was a dying on the cross, he refused the alcoholic drink offered Him.  We would do well to follow His example.  (Mark 15:23)
  2. Medicine for physical pain near death. Alcohol is a type of drug.  That is why is considered a “controlled substance.”  Alcohol can be used as medicine.  Does Nyquil still have alcohol in it?  We still anesthetize for pain before surgeries in similar ways today. Alcohol should only be available as a prescriptive drug to alleviate the pain of a dying person. Even if the wine Paul recommends to Timothy was alcoholic (I do not believe it was) it was consumed only as medicine.

WebMD.com writes in “The Buzz about Grape Juice” the following: “With grape juice, you can drink enough to get the benefit without worrying about becoming intoxicated.” What’s more, alcoholic drinks don’t seem to improve the function of cells in blood vessel linings the way grape juice does. And alcohol generates free radicals — unstable oxygen molecules that can actually cause damage to blood vessel tissues — dampening any of the benefits that red wine’s antioxidants may offer.”

One final thought: Not only would I not drink alcohol I would not serve it or sell it to other people.  I believe it is actually a sin to serve alcohol to another person.  If my job at the department store, gas station, or restaurant required me to serve or sell alcohol, I would look for a different job. Here’s why: Habakkuk 2:15, where a warning is given: Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness!

Alcohol has historically been used to take advantage of other people.  Ask many of the women of the “me too movement” if drugs or alcohol was part of the equation.  Even the first mention of wine with Noah included taking advantage and shameful nakedness. Drinking decreases mental ability, creates false narratives, encourages foolish and more sinful behavior, and clouds a person’s judgment. Don’t drink it! And don’t give it to others.

Be encouraged to live like a king – avoid alcohol.  Understand there is “no safe amount” of alcohol. It is not good for you – for many Biblical reasons!  Happiness is not found in a can or a bottle!  Instead of being filled with alcohol – be filled with the Holy Spirit of Jesus (Ephesians 5:18).  Let Him provide the peace, satisfaction, and fulfillment you are searching for.

 

 

 

 

One Drink Later

One Drink Later

A military chaplain once told me a story of a teenager who enlisted.  This recruit grew up in a conservative church like ours with parents who loved Jesus. One night he, with his new army buddies he went out on the town.  He had never had a drop of alcohol in his life.  They coaxed him into drinking.  The next day, he woke up in a jail cell with a blood-stained shirt on.  He had no memory of what happened.  A fight had broken out in the bar and he stabbed a man – who later died.  At the age of 19 he had a life sentence.  He sobbed – “IF I had only listened to my parents, teachers and pastor.”  One night. One choice. One drink led to a lifetime of sorrow. We make meaningful decisions each day.

All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.  1 Corinthians 6:12

The following stats are from NIAAA who monitor Alcohol consumption in America.

“Many young people drink alcohol…

  • By age 15, about 33 percent of teens have had at least 1 drink.1
  • By age 18, about 60 percent of teens have had at least 1 drink.1
  • In 2015, 7.7 million young people ages 12–20 reported that they drank alcohol beyond “just a few sips” in the past month.

Youth ages 12 to 20 often binge drink…

  • People ages 12 through 20 drink 11 percent of all alcohol consumed in the United States.3 Although youth drink less often than adults do, when they do drink, they drink more. That is because young people consume more than 90 percent of their alcohol by binge drinking. Binge drinking is consuming many drinks on an occasion (see box). Drinking alcohol and binge drinking become more prevalent as young people get older.
  • 1 million young people reported binge drinking (for males 5 or more drinks and for females 4 or more drinks on the same occasion within a few hours) at least once in the past month.2
  • 3 million young people reported binge drinking on 5 or more days over the past month.”

The damage done to the brain and thinking processes of a person who is consuming alcohol cannot be denied.  For reasons of pleasure, pain, or forgetting a problem, some people resort to drinking.  While mainstream culture promotes and makes alcohol popular, the true issues it and other substance abuse cause is seldom told or not fully understood in stark reality.  Broken homes, bruised bodies, car wrecks, and poor judgment are frequent and extremely common.

Many people I have counseled with who grew up in homes where alcohol ruled, decided against drinking alcohol themselves because of the first-hand problems they saw it create.  Alcohol does not “cause for a good time” like some people say.  It creates at atmosphere of foolishness and impaired judgment.  People can have fun at parties and have a good time hanging out with friends because of the people they are with and the things they are doing together – not because of a mind changed under the power and effect of alcohol.  To say: “I can’t have a good time without drinking” is one way of devaluing friendships.  Alcohol is in control of a person who says things like that. Enjoy the moment with the people you love.  Who wouldn’t want to remember “such a good time” to have good memories instead of foggy memories?

The Apostle Paul is teaching the Corinthian church that even if something is lawful – it does not mean it is good for me.  Even if I can – does not mean that I should.  Allowing your mind and body to be controlled by any substance or anything out side of the body is a form of addiction.  Drugs, vaping, smoking, drinking alcohol, or any other addiction is not something that you want to be subject to.  One drink later… you could be enslaved.

Parents – do all you can to help your teen not take their first drop of alcohol.  Warn about the dangers.  Teach the Bible admonitions.  Adults, purpose with the Lord’s help to abstain from drinking.  Your thoughts will be clearer, you will sin less, do less harm or evil than while “under the influence” and you will be better prepared for life because your mind is working more efficiently.

Consider in conclusion 2 of the many Bible passages giving ample warning:

Proverbs 20:1 Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.

Proverbs 23:31-35 Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder (Snake). Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things. Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast. They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emergencies and Tragedies

Emergencies and Tragedies

One story I have read and enjoy very much is a story is “told of a zoo that was noted for their great collection of different animals. One day the gorilla died, and to keep up the appearance of a full range of animals, the zookeeper hired a man to wear a gorilla suit and fill in for the dead animal. It was his first day on the job, and the man didn’t know how to act like a gorilla very well. As he tried to move convincingly, he got too close to the wall of the enclosure and tripped and fell into the lion exhibit. He began to scream, convinced his life was over…until the lion spoke to him: “Be quiet, or you’re going to get us both fired!”

There are many emergency situations that may arise in life.  Storms, tornadoes, hurricanes and flooding will take their toll.  Earthquakes, forest fires, and even volcanoes create much distress, problems, and each are potential life and death scenarios.

Depending on where you live a “natural disaster” may be more likely to unfold.  Having safety plans and survival plans is advised.  Today we also have the added possibility of a deranged, depressed, or demon filled attacker.  Violent attacks ranging from guns and knives to cars and even blunt objects are all possible.

Those are real emergencies. Most of us will experience relatively few true “emergencies” in life.  A majority of the time, what we are more likely to encounter are “tragedies.”  We see this especially in the areas of relationships, priorities in life, and spiritual formation.

Unlike emergencies, that can unfold rapidly, tragedies are events that are slowly unfolding in life.  For example:  a teenager who leaves home saying he “hates God, the Bible, and church” is not an emergency – he is a tragedy.  He did not wake up one day with the impression that he was against everything his parents stood for.  It took time.  An evil attitude was nurtured over time.  Sinful thinking and warped thinking was not only tolerated, but allowed to grow over time.

Emergencies need a quick response, while tragedies (while still urgent) will take some time to unravel and correct.  Please note that repentance and turning a life around all starts with one good decision, but it takes time to adjust a lifetime of sinful choices or bad habits.

Proverbs 3 teaches about wisdom.  Wisdom is personified in this passage.  Each person must decide to keep his or her eyes on wisdom.  She will help you to not stumble, fall, or be in a place where great trouble will capture you.

Proverbs 3:21-26 instructs, “My son, let not them depart from thine eyes: keep sound wisdom and discretion: 22 So shall they be life unto thy soul, and grace to thy neck. 23 Then shalt thou walk in thy way safely, and thy foot shall not stumble. 24 When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet.  25 Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh. 26 For the LORD shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken.”

If we keep our eyes on wisdom, it makes it harder for us to “fall off a cliff.”  Why?  Because wisdom will not let you get near the cliff to begin with.

Falling off a cliff would be an emergency.  Plunging down 65 feet off a rock face would be disastrous – but it is an emergency that is predicated by a tragedy.  The tragedy in this case is a life of wrong thinking, unwise decisions, and a heart that is slowly walking away from wisdom and away from the Lord.

There are many tragedies unfolding in the lives of people all around us.  Seemingly “insignificant” choices that are rooted in selfishness more than the Spirit of God, may seem innocent, but they do bring a person closer to the cliff.

  • A child may think “It is just a drink or a smoke” but that brings them closer to an emergency of an overdose on some other drug.
  • A man may think “it is just one magazine or website” but it is a slow path to addiction in his mind and isolation in relationships.
  • A woman may think “it is just a few dollars more” for coffee, tea, or some other fancy and expensive pleasure, but it could lead to mismanagement of finances leaving a person’s savings account bankrupt.

By The Way:  Poor choices are not just about plain sin.  Sometimes the innocent pleasures that are prioritized above Bible principles can become sin to us. Wisdom assesses each scenario and helps you to avoid tripping and falling.  The Apostle Paul suggested this in 1 Corinthians 6:12 “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.”  Just “Because I can” does not make it a good choice.

Please avoid making every decision based on emotion, drama, or selfishness.  Be aware that the mundane, daily choices are the most significant of choices for direction (towards wisdom or away from wisdom) that will determine if you have an emergency or not.

No one intends to create personal emergencies in life.  They develop as “tragedies” over the course of time.  Tragedies are happening all around us.  Be sure your life is not a tragedy.  Remember Shakespeare?  He wrote what literary students call “Tragedies.”  Those writings include: “Antony and Cleopatra, Hamlet, Julius Caesar, Macbeth, and Romeo and Juliet.  Many people have been entertained by these “Tragedies” over the years.  Purpose to not let your life be mere entertainment for Satan or the world.  Your life should not be a “play thing” or amusement for evil people. Make the daily decision to apply God’s wisdom to your life today.  Keep your eyes on God’s wisdom.