Expensive Lessons

Working with drug addicts and the like, you get a real picture of what selfishness really looks like. Unfortunately, the damage and the regret that most leave behind could be compared to a train wreck; long after the engine has stopped the cars of the train keep coming from the inertia. I have experienced the reaping and the sowing effect myself from poor choices and missed opportunities because of my self-will running riot. In addition, the pain I felt myself became more important than the pain I caused others, a cycle of misery and regret. Making amends for those I hurt and caused pain, became a full time job, however it really helped me see just how selfish and self centered I really was.

I really like to keep things simple, not because I don’t like a challenge mind you, however when you have convoluted the truth it makes walking in integrity difficult and fluid-NOT GOOD! I had an encounter the other day with a a brother who relapsed and I was completely caught of guard at the hardness of heart and the bitterness. The excuses were endless and the justifications for his choices were plentiful. He could not get honest because of the fear of this and the fear of that. If the atmosphere was better, or the people nicer and more friendly. It was always someone else’s fault and if they would have “helped him better” things would have been different.

Having played those “records and tapes” myself in the past, I could almost lip sync what he was going to say next! I don’t want to seem sharp, but repentance was not even on the radar screen. The most beneficial theme for anyone in recovery is honesty at all times, with yourself and with your accountability group. Keeping things “under cover” is a ticking time bomb with no timer, it explodes when you least expect it and it devastates those you are in relationship with. We had a string of several different people in leadership have major failures in their life and it can be traced back to “under cover” junk and FEAR. The old saying, “you are only sick as your secrets” has merit in any persons life but it seems especially true in a Christian’s life.

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7 NIV

The light always depicts being visible. Darkness always depicts the what cannot be seen. “Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.” John 3:20

I have learned some powerful truths at a tremendous high price. Sin is simple; IT STEALS and KILLS and DESTROYS YOU! Being free from destructive addictions is not complicated as well. 1 Peter 2:24 says, “and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. IT IS A DONE DEAL!

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I am a recovering KNOW IT ALL….

The Teen Challenge Southwest and Northwest Regional conference was a blessing this year, and I found some fodder for the preaching ministry this week as well. I am always challenged and intrigued by the view point and wisdom of those who have have forged new Teen Challenge centers, ministry works and the like- all from a “word from God” and the many trials and tests that they have passed and failed. I was recently reminded why it so important to make time to spend listening to the voice of God and be still and know that HE is God.  There were many leaders present at said conference and some are well known and very Godly and humble to say the least- the anointing was very present in their life. Awesome- is the word that kept coming to my mind. I was feeling quite small and insignificant in scheme of things, funny how making comparisons will leave you feeling the exact opposite of what the word declares, nevertheless, there you have it. I was gathering “all the things I know” and presenting them in a package that I felt would make me feel a little more important and not so, well, inexperienced.  SHEESH…HELP ME JESUS!!!  In retrospect, as I look back on the gathering- I learned some things that I feel are valuable and worth noting.

1. Make time to do things right; some things you can not do over. One of the presenters who was well known and famous to us Teen Challenge folks was not well prepared and it showed. Confusing dialogue and broad topics added to the fray as I tried to find the path he was presenting. I really wanted to get something out of this workshop!  I realized that relying on your status or position and experience will not make up for a sloppy presentation- We generally have our first impression to folks around us as a “living epistle,” let’s be legible. Be excellent in all you do, and in all you do, do it for HIM.  I did get something out of it- see next point!

2. Become a “learner” instead of a “knower.” The “knower” assimilates knowledge to be secure in his circle, to have  all the answers and be “the man,” so to speak. The “knower” is insecure and his power  and security rests in the “knowing of facts,” the pursuit of knowledge is not about being a help it is about being the one who “knows it all,” It is about control or the lack of it, the “knower” can not be influenced or taught.  A learner is willing to be influenced and taught- he is a sponge in absorbing truth and applying truth to become more like Christ, not to be “one up” in the conversation. Humility is the key word in a learners disposition, he has ceased from striving and has learned to wait, and process the truth and then apply it to his life FIRST.  THE KNOWER IS PROUD the LEARNER IS HUMBLE. The learner is in process and the knower presents himself as if he has almost arrived.

3. Run to the Source of life not from it.  The conference had something special just for me- it was like God set the table so I could eat real food and real drink and be satisfied. I am always hesitant to share my weaknesses publicly because the “religious and pious” can be quite the “knowers” when I share my heart. After all, having the right answer is more important that sharing ones burdens, or esteeming another higher than one’s self- sarcasm intended. I digress, I have recently been challenged with a set of new fatherly duties alien to the “knower” it is called LISTENING! Not for information mind you, to be regurgitated later for some self serving rhetoric, But soul listening- or maybe soul hearing. My oldest daughter has been struggling with an injury to her knee, and she has been asking hard questions that I do not have the answer for. “Dad, why has God not healed me yet?”  “I am so angry at God right now dad….” Wow….. My daughter tends to push me away when she struggles with her faith and trials. It hurts my heart to see her struggle. My tendency is to “solve her problems” in the bigger scheme of things this is an EPIC FAILURE on my part….. You guessed it, I am a recovering “knower” and I instantly wanted to spout off all I knew in the scriptures of faith and standing and believing and that doubt is from the devil and so on I spoke with some peers of mine from ministry and humbled myself to ask their opinion and counsel and they said “just affirm her and listen to her.” WHAT? REALLY?  IT SOUNDED TOO SIMPLE.  So I risked “not knowing the answer,” to apply this new wisdom and it was just what my daughter needed, she needed my heart, not my head!  My daughter needed me-her father- to listen and affirm her ability to hear from God; and to stand firm, and not to find fault in her moment of weakness. Then God spoke to my heart later and said that I do the same thing when I am struggling- I push Him away as I try to solve the problem with my FAITH, and knowledge of the WORD and that I traded “knowing the answer” from “Knowing Him!”  KNOWING THE ANSWER IS NOT THE SAME AS KNOWING HIM! Intimacy with Jesus is more important than having all the answers to life’s problems. AT SOME POINT IN MY JOURNEY I TRADED BEING THE ONE WHO KNOWS THE ANSWERS FOR KNOWING THE ONE WHO HAS THE ANSWERS. SO, I AM TRADING UP OR TRADING BACK- REPENTING IS WHAT I AM DOING!