a Father’s will

“The will of God will never take you where the grace of God will not protect you.”CANDLE

“Our Higher Power will not give us more than we can handle in one day.”

Those words are familiar to most of us who walk a recovery path.  In my life’s experience determining the will of God has been a major stumbling block.  Having been bombarded by various preachers extolling numerous differing theologies, I finally came to rest on a space in which that voice inside, some call it conscience, became my deciding factor.  It is the indwelling spirit, some choose to capitalize Spirit, which knows my character defects, names them and leads me to correct them.  Very simply that is for me the will of God.  The conscience was instilled in me for a purpose and that purpose is not merely to spoil my fun.  It is there to lead me.

It is a manner of living, sober-living, which embraces everything that my character defects, sinful nature, oppose and resist.  If what I am thinking is my will, if it is my surrendering to self-directed action, if it is my desire to please myself, then I should run the opposite direction into my HP’s waiting arms.  Today, I have the willingness to live life according to God’s will and I know that when I do this, life can be clean and serene.

I cannot claim life is free of problems and obstacles; however, I can now approach those glitches with confidence knowing that God extends abundant mercy, an unmerited and undeserved gift of grace and favor.  God does for me what I cannot do for myself.  I am but a lost sheep needing the voice of a shepherd to lead me to the green pastures and still waters.  It is there that I find peace and rest amidst a violent, chaotic world.  The Father’s will for me is to find comfort and solace following a simplistic but sometimes difficult directive.  SURRENDER.  “Surrender to my will and you shall be set free.  Be still, cease striving; and then you will know that I am God.”

“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.  And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But, when smiley 3you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

parables

I’ve known the parables attributed to Jesus ever since my boyhood days in Sunday School class and vacation Bible School.  To me they were nothing more than neat stories which had no application in contemporary society.  Not until I was ready for God to illuminate my darkness, did I read these parables in a spiritual context.  They then began to pop off the pages with amazing truth and wisdom.CANDLE

The story of the prodigal son is my favorite because I lived that story through alcoholism and recovery.  The verses continue to humble me today even after many years of sober-living.  I knew of a God as a child, I turned my back and traveled to the “far country” to find my fortune and pleasure, I suffered financially and morally, I finally came home to Father who was waiting excitedly for me with open arms.  It was probably the most profound home-coming I shall ever experience.

One of today’s inspirational readings cites the parable of the talents.  “For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling to a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.” Matthew 25:14

In the times of Jesus a talent was worth more than $5000.  To one servant he gave 5 talents, to anther he gave 2, and to another he gave 1 talent.  The first two servants invested the money wisely and when the man returned from his travels his money had increased.  The third servant had buried the talent in the ground for fear of losing it and thereby bearing his master’s wrath upon returning.  The servant did indeed suffer his master’s anger because of his timidity in using the talent wisely.

Jesus is the travelling man who showered humanity with unfathomable wealth in wisdom and truth before he was crucified.  He entrusted his disciples with the “talents” of eternity instructing them to invest that which he had taught them and to increase God’s wealth throughout the world.  That’s his simple directive yesterday, today, and forever.

I am basically an easy-going man.  Don’t get excited about too many things and don’t rely on worldly wealth for validation or fulfilment.  There is a part of me that could be labeled “lazy”.  Yep, guilty as charged.  Sloth is one of my favorite character defects and it has been a reliable  bed mate  of depression for most of my life.  Two more of sloth’s definitions in the Merriam Webster are “inertia” and “apathy”.  If I am inert it is probably because I am also depressed.  If I am depressed it is probably because I am inert.  Both scenarios lead to apathy.  Therefore, it is in my best interest and the health of my sobriety to stay active, stay involved with other recovering addicts, and stay protected by the wisdom of AA literature and scriptures.  That is my best defense against sloth, apathy, depression, and inertia.

Not only during this special observance time of giving thanks, but always, my recovery from alcoholism needs a daily dose of gratitude, a fix of appreciation for the multitude of blessings received, unmerited and undeserved, from a power greater than myself, a Higher Power whom I call God.  It is my fix for the brokenness which I call Larry.

“This little light of mine; I’m gonna let it shine”.  Childhood Sunday School simplicity nails the heart of Matthew 25: 14-28, the parable of the talents.  God did not save me from the pits of hell lived in alcoholic stupor to rise up into the salvation of sobriety without stipulations.  Jesus has told me that merely being sober is not enough.  The wealth, the talents, he has bestowed are not meant to be buried or hidden under a bushel basket.  They are to be shared unselfishly with the broken masses.  They are meant to be invested in the still suffering addict, the depressed man who has no source of consolation, and ultimately returned to Jesus himself as payment with interest for his grace shed upon me.  It’s not complicated and with an attitude of gratitude, it is entirely possible for even a man like me, a wretched and lost soul, to return and bask in the light of God.namaste rainbow

 

God’s Not Dead

I spent a few hours last evening watching the movie GOD’S NOT DEAD.  Music from the NEWSBOYS  enhanced the script which detailed a challenge in the life  of Joshua, a pre-law student at the university who is a faithful follower of Jesus enrolled in a philosophy course taught by a strident, self-proclaimed atheist.  CANDLE

Supporting roles include Josh’s girl friend, a young woman who values worldly pursuit over spiritual values, a student reporter who is diagnosed with terminal cancer, an oriental student presumably from China who comes to believe in the Christian God much to the dismay of his father, a Muslim student who is disowned by her father upon his learning that she has become a Christian, a Christian pastor who becomes involved with lead characters in a salvific role, and the professor’s lover, a student who has denied her Christian faith to be “unequally yoked” with an atheist.

The heart of the movie is a challenge presented by Professor Radisson to Joshua to prove to his philosophy class that God is real and God is alive.  It is great wholesome entertainment and a somber reminder that our world does not love us nor respect us for carrying the Christian faith or any God centered philosophy.  Ridicule, condescension, and persecution of our ideals and beliefs have become commonplace in social media and secular entertainment.  And yes, it is often well-placed, deserved derision and mockery based on the religious hypocrisy which has overtaken an element of Christianity.  But, that hypocritical element is a notable minority which unfortunately has garnered significant attention in American society and has overshadowed the goodness and compassion of the overwhelming balance of the Christian world.

In the movie, Professor Radisson ultimately has to admit that contrary to his atheist stance he does believe that there is a God but, decided to hate God because at age 12 God allowed his mother to die of cancer.  He was a denier rather than an atheist.  I also hated God for many years for allowing me to wallow in alcoholism, for not saving the world from famine, for allowing wars to destroy and maim.  I proclaimed myself an atheist but reclaimed my inheritance when, as a recovering alcoholic, I realized that I was a disillusioned victim of a misguided theology which claims God controls every nuance of my life.

I have free will, I have choices, I make decisions and these are liberties that have been granted to me living under the grace of a loving God who is not Santa Claus.  He does not grant nor deny my desires.  Yes, I discuss those needs and wants with my Higher Power and that sovereign entity simply gives me the guidance and discernment to make good or sometimes bad choices.  He gives me the strength and courage to face life on earth on earth’s terms.

I respect the right of every man/woman to walk their chosen path.  But please, if you define yourself as atheist, be sure you are not a believer who is in God denial.  Your eternity is not some future occurrence.  It is happening now and it can be awesome or it can be drudgery.  Your choice.smiley 3

the critic

Marianne Williamson

 

Dear Lord, please lift me up and heal me.

Cast out of my mind all thoughts that are not of You.

Cast out of me all harsh and critical nature.

Cast out of me all violence and anger.

Cast out of me all demons from my past,

for I would be made new.

Amen

CANDLEMarianne Williamson’s work has been a part of my inspirational readings for many years.  Like me, she grew up in the turbulent decades of “drugs, sex, rock and roll.”  She also caved to the demons of her times.  ILLUMINATA  The above excerpt from a prayer for healing reminds me everyday that my “harsh and critical nature” is not totally resolved within me.  It is one of the major character defects which can turn my daily interactions into completely chaotic fiascos.  Just one word from my quick, unthinking tongue can erase tireless efforts to be the man whom I believe my HP wants me to be.  A biting comment, an insult, an unwanted opinion in the morning has the power to shadow me for the entire day.  Today, I am aware of my defects and at least now I have the tools to prevent the unkind thoughts and words from ever escaping out of my mouth….most of the time.

We don’t claim spiritual perfection, just progress.  Thank God for this disclaimer.  Without it I would be eternally lost in the seas of self-loathing and despair believing that I am the least worthy and most despicable of God’s creation.  But, my HP delivers to me each new day the strength and resolve to become a better version of the old drunk, to become a vessel carrying his word to a suffering and distraught fellowship of other drunks, and to become a recovering voice in the darkness of addiction.  And because he says I am a work in progress, I need not do this perfectly.  I merely need the willingness to try.

That same harsh and critical nature is frequently turned inward.  I am undoubtedly my own worst critic.  If I truly believe that God’s saving grace has covered me with unmerited and undeserved mercy then how dare I dispute the work he has done in my life and the plan he has for me?  How dare I criticize the miracle working within me?  It is not up to me to judge others or myself.  The indwelling Spirit allows me to be the observer of life, allows thoughts to enter and depart without passing judgement on them, allows others to travel this path alongside me without passing judgement on them, and allows me to be nothing more…or less…than a simple messenger.smiley 3

Frieda Frigginhoffer

@ GABBY’S PLACE

Frieda Frigginhoffer

we should pray

Please pray with me tonight for our earth.   Matters not whom you name as Supreme, nor what you label yourself politically, nor where you live on this planet.  Our world needs our utmost devotional attention to the escalating crisis between the United States and North Korea.  Millions of lives hang in the balance, millions of our brothers and sisters need us tonight and in the days ahead to fill the spaces of God’s reality with fervent supplication for a peaceful solution.

Lord,

We know war is not your answer to the problems man has created in the world because of his inability to love unceasingly and selflessly.  You have taught us a different way, a path of peace and compromise leading to a brotherhood of humanity all sheltered under your loving arms.

We are on the brink of catastrophe because we have put personal agendas, greed, lust for power, and political philosophies ahead of the instructions given to us in all the scriptures by all messengers from your eternal, universal essence.  We have strayed from the truths which tell us that all humanity is created equally worthy of freedom and justice and happiness.  We have faltered in our evolution to enlightenment.

Please, let it not be too late.  As our prayers are touching the world leaders who are at the forefront of this confrontation use our collective power to heal the hurts which have made them the men they are today, to erase the hardships which have made them insecure, to release the egocentric needs to be top dog, and then fill their lives with the beauty of surrender to a greater universal power.  Let them know that they also are sons of a most magnificent brilliance which can overcome all obstacles to peaceful coexistence.

Safety, peace, and happiness.

 

power of friendship

The first few months of sustained sobriety were exciting and exhilarating for those of us recovering from alcoholism.  New ways of thinking, new habits, new friends, and a new spirituality kept us coming back to the rooms and tables of Alcoholics Anonymous.  Day by day we grew stronger in our commitments to live life without the crutch of a potion which we knew was killing us.  Some of us, however, continued to stumble over the name of God in the prayers and in the readings.  Too much God baggage from our addictions made it difficult to sincerely think about the Higher Power in any but the simplest of terms. Those with continuous sober time told us to use the group conscience as our reference point for God.  It worked.  Eventually, having done our inventories and amends, we cast aside the vindictive, judgmental concept we carried for far too many years and we could say and think God with conviction.

Very special friendships developed as we found others with like interests and shared histories.  Many of us began new lives plagued by financial problems carried over from our past lives and we found it necessary to share living expenses and housing.  It was a perfect solution to the loneliness imposed on us by our disease.

Roommates in recovery discovered that living together could be just as problematic as our marriages or relationships had been previously.  We were sober but we were not yet cured of the issues which turned our living arrangements into living hells prior to Alcoholics Anonymous.  We had not arrived at serenity, we were still works in progress.

My first roommate as a sober man was Jackie L.  He had several years sobriety, attended numerous meetings weekly, and was a person of deep, very deep, Catholic convictions.  We spent hours delving into the mysteries of the great writers of religious tradition.  Our commitment to sober living was never questioned and, in retrospect, that commitment kept us from going off the “deep end” with religion.  We had witnessed that happening to some of our friends; they got into some heavy theology and lost their sobriety as a result.

Jackie was described by some friends as a brooding, moody man.  I learned by watching his eye color change from a bright hazel to a deep green when Jackie had something on his mind.  And it was only a matter of minutes before we were in deep discussion about that “something”.  Being the younger in terms of sober time, I was also more explosive with emotions while my roommate maintained a calm composure.  That thoroughly pissed me off as we explored the problem we were having.  He already had the upper hand with his poise and wisdom while I sat there spitting and sputtering trying to argue my point.

Those days of early sobriety were extremely important in developing the interpersonal skills we somehow mismanaged while perched on our favorite bar stool at the local watering hole.  Finally, we had an opportunity to jumpstart our emotional growth which had been at a standstill for so many years.  And  make no mistake about it; this was tough, painstaking work.  We were ill-equipped for behaving like mature men and women.  But somehow we survived.

Jackie and I have lost touch over the many years since 1983.  But, I shall never forget his famous line whenever he was about to take the high road in our numerous arguments as roommates.  He, with those dark brooding eyes, would look at me with a slight curl on his lips and a mocking laugh and then ask,

“Well Larry, now how spiritual was that?”

That has stayed with me for all these years.  When I do or think something which is less than serene and clean, I ask myself, “Well Larry, now how spiritual was that?”

Today I believe the world and its problems could learn a lesson from Jackie and me if people would simply ask themselves, “How spiritual was that?”