JAN 2013 JOURNAL- JAN- MAY
1977 CONFESSION .
Just started studying the 1st letter of the apostle John.
John- the disciple of Jesus- wrote the gospel that bears his name.
He also wrote the 3 short letters- 1st, 2nd and 3rd John.
And the book of Revelation [some scholars think another John might have written Revelation].
Now- 1st John fits in well with the current study we are doing on addictions.
Over the years I have read the letter lots- and as somewhat of a student- I’m aware of the various schools of thought on John.
For instance- he says- alot- things like;
‘Those who are born of God do not commit sin’
‘By this we know the children of God and the devil- those who sin are not of God- those who keep his commandments are of God’
John uses language like this all thru out the letter.
So- this has caused some teachers thru the centuries to try and ‘water’ down what John said [meant?]
Because the human experience seems to tell us that humans- while in the flesh- will never be totally ‘sinless’.
Okay- but there are those who say yes- we- as humans- can reach a point of being ‘sinless’.
Others say that John was just saying ‘constant sin’.
Sort of like these statements that those who are of God CANNOT SIN- that it really means ‘they don’t do it all the time’.
Okay- what one is it?
I have sided with those who have said John is not saying we can achieve perfection- total perfection- in this life.
Yet- I also think others [in this group of thinking it does not mean sinless] have kind of used this as an excuse.
That is- John is clearly saying that when we are united with God- we will reach a point of overcoming sin- addictions- and that we can live without actually being addicted.
Okay- a few points.
How do we achieve this state?
Both John- and James [the letter in the New Testament that I covered last] give us biblical principles that help.
One of the reasons the 12 step movement does indeed work- is because they practice the biblical principle of what I call OPEN COMMUNITY.
Huh- what’s that?
In these letters- as well as the whole bible- we as believers are told to CONFESS our faults one to another.
Yes- after the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century- many Protestants [of which I am] abandoned this practice.
For 15 hundred years most Christians practiced Confession- yes- to a Priest.
Now- the original reformers [Luther- Calvin- etc.] did not reject confession to a priest.
It’s important to know this- because many Protestants seem to equate their protest against the Catholic Church along with the idea ‘I don’t need to confess to any man- Jesus is my Priest’.
True as that is- yet the New Testament does indeed tell us to confess our faults [which does include sin] to one another.
Okay- this practice- of Open Community- of having others that your are accountable to- is practiced in 12 step groups.
You tell others- openly ‘I have been clean so many days’.
Others ask you [whether sponsors or fellow AA’ers] ‘are you clean’?
I have told a good friend- a few times already ‘yeah- my Birthday has not changed’.
See- this is a biblical thing- a practice that is often not practiced in protestant churches because of what I just explained.
So- how do we apply the teaching of the Apostle John- he did say that ‘by this we know we are the children of God- everyone that does what is right- who keeps God’s commands- who DOES NOT SIN- these are of God’.
I think a key is this Open Community ideal- we admit to each other our faults.
Now- in this journal I’m doing- I have been more open than many about addictions that most of us hide.
Let’s be real- It’s easier to say ‘my name is so and so and I’m an alcoholic’.
Than to say ‘I have an addiction to porn’.
So- as we move forward with this journal- as God leads- maybe this will be an opportunity for others to ‘sign on’ so to speak.
Okay- that’s it for today- remember- the bible teaches us to be open with each other- of course you need to also be careful with whom you choose to ‘confess’ to.
AA does teach that there are some things that you need to share with at least one other person.
But to be careful not to cast your Pearls before swine.
That is- sometimes it’s not helpful to tell too many others about your hidden sins.
So- let God lead.
Also- the 1st letter of John is indeed calling all of us to live free from habitual patterns of sin.
It is not simply saying we have been forgiven [which is true].
But John is saying if we are of God- born of him- then we will eventually show it by keeping his commands and ‘not sinning’ any more.
That is- we can indeed overcome our addictions- all of them.
2-9-2013 40 DAYS
In a few more days the historic church begins the Lenten season.
Every year around this time I always felt like if I did 40 days abstention from any habit- that it would be a breakthrough.
Heck- who can do 40 days!
Well- by Gods grace- this year Lent will begin- for me- with the first 40 days of the year as a sort of a self imposed Lent.
Yes- I’m almost at my 40 days of being clean- and it will be the first time in many years.
Okay- yesterday I spent the day with the guys at the halfway house.
My ‘co-founder’ John David [who will read all these posts when I’m done- I have been telling him I’m going to post this whole journal at once- and I want him to read it. As a side note- I love David as a true brother and friend. He was one of the original homeless ‘bums’ on the streets where I live. As of now- I must confess- he’s the ‘best’ fruit from that field. Henry too.]
Me and David hung out at the building where we meet for the AA meetings [We take the guys at the halfway house to this meeting a lot- it’s sort of our Home Group].
David was getting a little depressed- he dropped off a good friend of ours at Detox- and we found out he never made it in.
We were not sure if he walked away on his own- or if he had some medical problem that kept him out.
At this Detox- called Charlie’s Place- if you are too sick- or withdrawing too bad- they won’t accept you.
Either way- David was letting it get to him- I prayed before I left and I think all will turn out well.
Once again [yeah Brother- I know I’m telling on you a lot in this journal!J] we got into another ‘heated’ discussion.
Every so often David offers me the ‘whole program’.
He does his best to do what he feels is his calling- to gain recruits into AA.
At this time- I tell him ‘thank you David- I’m doing good- for various reasons that I will explain later [like in this journal] but just give this some time’.
In yesterdays ‘talk’ I told David- again- that there are many former alcoholics who have ‘stopped drinking’ for good [without AA].
He tells me he thinks God has ordained AA- in this time- to be the program to free people.
I tell him I do agree that it’s a tool- but when you say ‘I believe you will go back to drinking- even after many years/months of being sober- unless a person submits to the program’.
This approach is very legalistic- and to be frank- makes me feel like ‘going out’ [drinking].
Okay- enough of that.
Let me share a verse the Lord impressed on me this last month.
I forget where it is in the bible- but it says;
‘I have delivered you from the things your soul lusted after- you will find them no more at all’.
As I approach my 40 days of abstaining from addictive behavior- I do sense a sort of freedom from the nagging thoughts- images- that embed within the mind [soul] after years of acting out.
Now- I do pray regularly- read scripture- do outreach to friends- I do- and have done- lots of the things that 12 step programs recommend.
But I think the biggest reason for not ‘seeking after’ sinful desires- is God’s grace- and going thru a period of not doing the act.
Yes- much of the stuff I’m reading on addictive behavior does say that after a period of not doing an act- anywhere from 21 to 40 days- that there will be an actual change in the brain/mind- and ‘your soul will not find those things anymore’.
My experience has been- even during past times of abstaining from an addictive behavior- that initially you might have constant thoughts [temptations] of doing the act.
But- after the 30-40 days- that goes away.
Now- you might be thinking ‘o- how I wish that were true’.
Well- it is true- there are many thousands [hundreds of thousands] who will tell you that this is true!
That’s why- in some scenarios- the well meaning AA friends- without realizing it- might be hindering true freedom for some- by telling them that they think- or know- that others will drink again- unless they submit to the program.
In this case- we all need to be careful.
Share your experience- strength and hope.
And I am sharing information that maybe you have never read.
Heck- I just picked up 3 books from the book store on addictions- and there are many stories of people who have done this short 30 day test- and got free- for good!
‘John- can I really stop sinning- for real’?
I’ll quote the apostle John to you again.
‘My little children- these things write I unto you that ye sin not’
‘He that is born of God does not practice sin’
‘By this we know the children of God- they do Gods commandments’.
I quote these verses- not to make you feel guilty- but to give you the biblical narrative- the ‘experience- strength and hope’ in the bible.
Yes- being free is a free gift of grace.
Many have been finding this- long before the days of 12 step groups- before Detox clinics- before all the very well meaning programs that are out there.
Yes- believe- you can be free- if you want.
NOTE- many of the Detox programs do a great job- they give people the tools to have their first 30 days [ or 28 days- many Detox centers are referred to as 28 day programs] of being free. My feeling is many relapse because when they get out they have no structure for life itself. That’s where AA comes in as a useful tool for many. The program offers Life Structure to long time addicts whose whole life- even their social life- revolved around using.
WHO SAYS YOU CANT GO HOME [Bon Jovi]
Yesterday I went to Barnes and Noble.
A book title kept popping into my mind these past few days.
It’s by Victor Frankl- Mans search for meaning.
I heard of it years ago by Stephen Covey.
I liked Covey [who passed away this past year] and read his best seller ‘7 habits of highly effective people’ a few times.
I also had the audio tapes and listened to them at work.
I remembered that he recommended Frankl- so I picked a copy up at the store.
I also asked the customer service girl where the AA stuff is.
She walked me over to the section- they had lots of updated studies and bests sellers on addictions.
I told her I just started getting into AA and I noticed that there was a real need for us to have more than the Big Book.
She made a face- like ‘you aint kidding brother’ I got the feeling that she has some experience in this field.
As I perused the shelves- I decided instead to get a book on Sex Addicts.
I bought one years ago- just recently re-read it and lent it to a friend.
I read about 60 pages or so of this new one- and it’s excellent.
The title is Out of the Shadows- by Patrick Carnes.
He confirms some of the stuff I seemed to see also.
He says that many times alcohol and sex addiction go together- but the stronger addiction is the sex addiction.
He also says it’s important to see that the sex addiction is not simply a result of the drinking- but a separate issue.
Sort of like we should be aware that when a person struggles with acting out in a sexual way- we should not simply blame it on our drinking.
I did like that- I feel at times we do use that as a form of denial.
I never intended for this journal to be so focused on addictions- but for now I think we will stick with it for a while.
Okay- on this journey [my year in AA- etc.] I thought about documenting the good and the bad for the benefit of all.
When I was in Barnes and Noble- I also noticed some material on the entire Rehab and Detox industry in the U.S.
I also read some stuff on-line that is very critical of this industry.
As of now- I’m right in the mix of all of this.
Another co-worker with me in the halfway house is a good friend by the name of Andy.
Andy is the brother of John David- who I wrote about the other day.
Andy started with us from day 1- he was actually recommended by me- I told John David I thought we needed Andy to be the house manager for a while.
David took my advice and Andy has been at the halfway house ever since.
He also got a good job working at the Detox center that many of our guys went thru.
So- I have dropped Andy off there many times- been there a couple of times with David- I am in the mix of one of the most popular Detox centers in the area.
I also see how many friends of mine have been in and out- sort of like a revolving door.
I see the danger of the industry becoming focused on the bottom line [how many go thru each month- with Medicaid funding- etc.] and how this could be a problem.
But I’m also aware of friends who have gone thru the program and have indeed become clean.
So I want to be careful when I read the critical views of both AA and the Detox industry- because I do know of people who have made a tremendous change in their lives thru these tools.
As a matter of fact- the book I mentioned above is very supportive of the 12 step movement- and he speaks about the sex addicts 12 step recovery movement in a very supportive way.
Okay- as I continue to journal every day now- which I did not plan at the beginning.
As of now- I think I will probably post this journal in a month or so.
If I wait too long- like a year- then it will be too long for first time readers to the blog/Facebook sites.
I thought about the meetings I have attended so far- and I said the other day I have been to around 20.
Actually- more like 10.
The reason I say this is because I consider my Home Group to be a meeting called Humility.
This group meets in an area that I feel comfortable with.
Over the years- doing street ministry- I have been with the street guys many times in what you would call the older Barrios- the older areas of town.
Places where drugs and prostitution take place.
So this meeting is right off Leopard Street- one of those famous spots.
The day before I leave to N.J. – I plan on posting this journal and letting my home group know I’m leaving Texas.
For how long?
I really don’t know.
I think for a year or so [maybe for good].
I always felt like I needed to go back north- but when my kids were young I never wanted to make the move.
But now they are really on their own- they are all grown up- so I think it’s time to make the move.
So- to my Humility friends- I love you all- thanks for all the support you have given me- I know I don’t talk much in the meetings- but I hope you keep in touch with me thru these sites.
I of course will visit you when I make trips back to Texas.
As of today- our little halfway house is still going ‘strong’.
Well- we have survived.
I told my friend John David that for so many years I always wanted to start one with my original ‘gang’ of hoodlums- the guys I started my first church with in Kingsville.
And we finally did it- Hoorah!
Our halfway house is right down the block from another Christian based one that I used to bring drug addicts to years ago.
So when I’m sitting on the top floor at our building- I look out the window- see the old area- and sort of reminisce.
One of my good friends who was an original addict turned clean was Elias Alvarado.
He was a founding member of the little church I started in 1987.
I used to preach to him at the jail.
He eventually got clean [with the victory outreach] and joined my little church.
He died many years ago- but as I sit in our NeWay [the name of our halfway house]- I see him looking down and saying ‘I like it John- I really do’.
So- I’m happy that the Lord gave me this little gift before I leave Texas.
I’m happy for all the years I spent with my friends- my street friends- I love them all like brothers.
And when you guys read this- it looks like I’ll be back in N.J. – going back to the first AA meeting I ever attended.
In North Bergen- N.J.
At my Old Catholic church on Kennedy Blvd- Our Lady of Fatima.
[Who knows- I might just cross the Tiber? Look it up.]
Where I went to CCD classes as a kid.
Attended midnight mass with Billy one year [old buddies].
Yeah- I think I’m ready for the next stop on this strange and exciting journey I have been on.
See you tomorrow.
1980 GOD WILL ANSWER THE PRAYER OF THOSE WHO STOP SINNING
Well today is day 40- yeah- no practicing of addictive behavior.
‘You mean none- at all?’
In the ‘old days’ I would maybe be clean 3-4 days- slip up- confess to God- and then the cycle would repeat.
‘John- you were a hypocrite then’.
But the point is we all learn to live with sin at times- and we- Christians- make excuses for it.
I have been reading the 1st letter of John [in the New Testament] this past week or 2.
Let me just quote a few verses.
‘The darkness is past- and the true light now shines’.
‘This then is the message we heard from him [Jesus] that God is light and in him is no darkness at all- if we say that we walk with Him- and do evil- we lie and the truth is not in us’.
‘Whatsoever we ask we receive of him because we keep his commandments and do those things that are pleasing in his sight’.
‘For this is the love of God- that we keep his commandments- and they are not hard to keep’.
Okay- the other week I prayed for a friend who has lots of physical problems.
I prayed ‘Lord- you said you would hear the prayer of those who DO RIGHT- so- I have been clean for a while now- do this for us- help my friend’.
After the prayer- I told my friend ‘Now- if you sense a real change in a few days- don’t say ‘wow- you know my new med’s are working’ no- remember this prayer.
To be honest- this friend [who I won’t name] is on a lot of prescription drugs- though he is clean from drinking- yet I felt he was getting addicted to the prescription stuff.
So- a few weeks later he tells me- like a few others- that for years he has struggled with sexual dreams and images.
And he kind of says ‘you know- for some reason they have been letting up just these last few weeks- maybe because of your prayer’.
Okay- don’t mis-read this.
I’m not a saint- by no means.
But- I have been clean from addictions- 100%.
These verses that I just quoted talk about God hearing our prayers- when we don’t sin.
James says this ‘The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much’.
Peter says ‘The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous and his ears are open to their prayers’.
Over the years- I have heard preachers say that this doesn’t mean we are not sinning- but that we have our prayers answered because the goodness of Jesus is attributed to our account.
Now- this is true in as sense.
But if you carefully read these verses- especially the ones in John’s 1st epistle- it does not say ‘God answers our prayers based on the righteousness of Christ’.
No- it says ‘those who do Gods commands’.
Yes- the bible clearly tells us if we do Gods will- if we don’t live in habitual sin- then God will answer our prayers.
Today I want to encourage you- I am praying for you.
I do indeed believe that many of you reading this far into this LONG journal are here because of the things I’m discussing.
So- as you read along with me- receive the prayers I’m praying for you.
Realize that yes indeed- God tells us that we don’t have to live in sin.
Yes- he will give you means of support.
Maybe a 12 step group.
Maybe a good church.
All types of support.
But don’t become co-dependent on a certain thing- a thing you feel you must do- or else you will sin.
No- after the initial battle –usually around 30 days- the thing is gone.
That’s not just me saying this- that’s what the studies are showing.
These studies are secular- they are simply studies of the brains of addicts- and they show that even the unbeliever- if he stops an addictive act for a short period of time- then he is no longer addicted.
Yes- he might have a tempting thought- or some other type of battle.
But- it will indeed be gone.
[Note- I know this goes against what many of us have been taught- that there are physical and physiological dependencies. I am aware of the language on addiction as a disease. I’m just trying to give you the biblical perspective- along with many modern studies of addicts. Yes- some are addicted ‘more’ than others- but in all cases we can change for good. Some feel the ‘language of addiction’ in itself is a bondage- that is if you begin to accept that your are different- in a sense you have a disease that others don’t have- then this in a way gives people a subliminal excuse to later relapse. See?]
‘Then why do so many guys relapse after they get out of Detox’?
I’m studying this right now- but what I said in previous posts seems to be a key.
Lots of people have no life structure- their lives revolve around using- acting out.
In these types of cases- It’s important for them to create new social contacts [AA calls this sober contacts].
Yes- these things are good.
So- for today- take my prayers.
I ‘give’ them to you- I believe God does hear us- when we ‘don’t sin’.
Am I sinless?
Of course not.
But I can say honestly that I have not had one drink- viewed any porn- or acted out in any addictive way in 40 days- not once [note- my sobriety date is 1-3-13. To be honest with you all- I viewed porn one time- maybe 2 days after I stopped drinking- that was it. So- my sober date- and ‘no more porn’ are about the same- but it’s easier to not have 2 dates- see?]
So believe you can do this too- I’m for you!
In the books I’m reading on addiction- some think the idea of triggers- things- actions- places- etc.
Things that ‘set off’ a cycle of addictive behavior- some put little or no emphasis on these.
I personally think they are wrong.
For years I have believed that triggers are a very real thing.
The bible says ‘don’t go by the house of a prostitute- don’t even go the way of her street’ Proverbs.
The bible says to avoid the things that cause us to stumble.
In our day- one of the greatest triggers are the thing you are reading this post on right now.
Yeah- the computer- internet.
Now- as of today- I have not been on-line for the year.
I’m 41 days into no drinking or acting out- and I do feel that being off-line- at least for now- has played a big role in that.
I have gone on line a couple of times to research addictions- and to post a picture of a car I’m selling on Craigslist.
But that’s about it.
My Facebook page and Blog have not been seen by me in a month and a half [I had my wife download the car pic from Facebook for me- I did not want to get on].
Okay- are these things wicked in and of themselves?
Of course not- but they can be triggers- very strong ones.
I would recommend anyone having a problem with on-line porn- UNPLUG!
Jesus said those who look at a woman to lust after her have already committed adultery with her in their heart.
There is a demonic [lustful] connection to the soul of a person who views porn.
Scripture says ‘he that commits adultery DESTROYS his soul’ [the good news is- these images will go away after about a month of not viewing porn- but you will struggle at the start].
Remember the verses I posted the last week or so?
‘The light of the body is the eye- if your eye is evil [looks at evil stuff] then your whole body is filled with darkness’.
Yesterday I read in the 1st letter of John ‘the darkness is past and the true light now shineth’.
He was speaking of those who stopped habitually acting out.
Yes- when you break free from these things- you will begin to see more clearly.
You will still have problems to deal with- but your coping skills will get better.
I was reading one of the addiction books yesterday- and it speaks about the inability of the addict to think clearly.
Others around him/her see the person destroying themselves.
The spouse or kids will think ‘doesn’t he see what he’s doing to himself’.
The family members don’t understand why the addict keeps doing this to himself.
It’s because the addiction has ‘blinded his mind’.
He really does not see how bad things are- how far down he has gone.
But- in time- as you stop practicing the habit [yes- you can stop] things do get better.
Now- another debate I will get into down the road is the whole issue of Roots.
Some therapy spends a whole lot of time trying to find the hidden reasons behind the addiction.
This can be good or bad.
How can it be bad?
If you are under the impression that you can’t just ‘stop’ unless you deal first with a whole host of other deep issues.
Now- we want to deal with these things.
Stuff that happened to us- or other things that might be roots.
But- don’t allow this to be a stumbling block to the ability that we all have to simply stop the practice.
Yes- I believe that we can stop addictive behavior by the grace of God.
In time we want to deal with all the other stuff- but don’t let people tell you- you will keep relapsing until you figure all this other stuff out.
Heck- some of these issues will take years to work on.
No- you can stop today.
Okay- lets end there for now.
If you have to ‘go off line’ for a month or 2- then do it.
I’ll admit- it’s not easy- to some, Facebook and the net are addictions in themselves.
But to you who struggle with on line porn- log off for a while.
Either accessing porn from your phone or computer can become a very strong trigger.
Take a month off if you have to- it can save your life in the end.
In Luke chapter 19 Jesus gives the parable of the money [talents].
He says a certain nobleman went into a FAR country to get a kingdom- AND RETURN.
Before he left he called his servants and gave them money [gifts- talents].
He told them to stay busy- use it for good- until he comes back.
After a LONG TIME the nobleman returns and calls the servants.
He asks them how they did- how much did they gain with what he gave them.
2 of the men doubled their money.
The last one says he hid the money in the ground.
The nobleman asks him why he did this.
He said because he had fear- he was always in fear of what the master would do.
So he hid it.
This last servant receives a harsh judgment because of this.
The king takes away his one piece of money and gives it to the guy who had 10 pieces.
Then we read the famous verse ‘whoever has- to him will be given. But to him who has not- to him will be taken away what he thinks he has’.
These last few weeks I have been asking the Lord what the next step in my journey is.
I came to Texas 33 years ago.
I started our ministry in 1987- as a church in Kingsville.
I launched our radio program around 1990.
I started an outreach to the street guys around 1992.
And- as I started this year- with many trials- I began asking ‘what’s up’?
One day one of the homeless friends stopped by to see how I was doing.
I met Eddie a few years ago- he and Walden are more like ‘winter Texans’ than street guys.
But they became good friends and whenever they are in town they see me.
I was painting the outside of my house and told Eddie I’m thinking of selling it and getting a place in the country.
He asks me about N.Y. – N.J.
If there are spots up there that are cheap too.
I told him not really- not where I was raised [right across from NYC]
But I did say as a kid I used to go to a hunting trailer that one of the firefighters had.
My dad was a Captain with the North Bergen F.D. – he retired many years ago.
But another firefighter- Dave Holling- had a hunting club that was made up of a few of the firefighters.
I went every year and did the weekly hunt- in a real out of the place city/county called Schoharie.
So- I told him yeah- you could live cheap in a spot like this.
Now- I’m asking the Lord if I should move- maybe back home to N.J.
The next day or 2 I’m checking out the free movies I get with a Netflix type deal.
I pick one of the independent movies about over eaters.
Have no idea!
As the movie starts- the guy has to get away from home [It’s filmed in Jersey!] and he moves to a trailer- of all places- in Schoharie! [I kid you not].
The whole movie is scenes from N.J. and Schoharie.
I laughed- like wow- I just talked about this yesterday with Eddie- and I have never seen a ‘scene’ with Schoharie in it- till now.
I really never gave it a 2nd thought.
Then- as I’m praying about moving- I watch one of my favorite Catholic shows on EWTN [the Catholic station].
Now- obviously they are not going to have anything about moving to Jersey on this show- right?
The guy on the show for this day is a former Protestant who became Catholic.
He says- quote ‘after being away from New Jersey for 20 years- I went back home’.
Yes- he not only returned to the Church- but moved back to N.J.
Oaky- maybe Gods telling me something.
No wait- maybe I’m jumping the gun- you know- when you are going thru stuff you don’t always think clearly.
So- we go to church.
The message comes from the above parable I just mentioned.
As the Pastor is preaching- I follow with the notes and write down ‘a nobleman went into a far country [Texas?]…and to RETURN [N.J. ?]’.
I SORT OF FELT LIKE THIS MIGHT BE A SIGN FROM GOD.
I get home and the next day I turn to the chapter to read it on my own.
When I get to this part- I had already written- years ago- RETURN- NEW JERSEY.
Yeah- I felt like God was talking to me.
Another verse popped into my head at the moment.
‘After so long a time- today if you hear my voice [again] then listen to it’.
I felt like God was speaking to me in stereo.
As of today- I think that’s the direction I’m getting from God.
Let’s see what happens next.
TAKE THE TEST?
This week we had one of the boys that left the halfway house a few weeks ago- come back.
He’s a nice kid- he went ‘back out’ [did crack] and looked pretty bad.
He told me he was sorry that I had to see him like this- I told him don’t worry- I love him like a brother and it’s not too late to give it another chance.
I had the same amount of ‘clean time’ as a few of the guys who have already relapsed.
As I’m reading the alternative views on Recovery- I do see a problem with some of the standard approaches.
As of now- I think I will only post a few more on Addiction Recovery.
I want to end with the 30 days test I spoke about [if I forget to do one- use this one as the test post. That means if you are reading this journal- and you see yourself in some ways- some of the struggles I was open about- then you can simply make a comment at the end of this journal that say’s I’M IN. That will be your way of making a sort of public confession- that will be an opportunity for you to get secret sins in the light- for God to deal with].
As of now- I will continue to go to AA meetings- hopefully in N.J. – N.Y.
But I want to transition into a more healthier lifestyle view- that is for all of us.
There is a danger of the Alcoholic/Addict to surround their lives with the identity of addiction.
Yes- the disease paradigm [I have a disease that ‘normal’ people don’t have].
This can be an all consuming thing.
I am not advocating drinking at all- I do believe the total abstinence model for those who have had a drinking addiction [like me].
But the lives of those who want to get better must find a greater purpose in life- than simply overcoming the addiction.
Now- to some- this purpose has been found in AA.
Their calling is to bring others into AA.
The Big Book speaks of this- that some have the opportunity to do this full time.
Others might be called to other ‘fields’.
But- there must be a transition from the life/language of addiction.
Life is intended to live.
When alcoholics/addicts abstain from their addiction- in time- they become WELL.
There minds will function again.
They will develop coping skills that they suppressed thru the years of acting out.
As you- as a person- return to ‘normal’.
Then go out and live your life- do normal things.
Have a career- enjoy the Carnivals again!
Yes- as I see some of our boy’s relapse- I will walk with them again thru the steps.
I will take them to the meetings here in Texas [until I leave].
I will try to develop friendships with the brothers.
But I will also share the things I have learned.
I find it amazing that some of the people I have spoken to about the other avenues of addiction treatment.
Some of them have no idea about the other studies that are out there [like many people who have stopped drinking- without the aid of 12 step groups].
I’m not saying that these friends should reject the 12 step concept.
But for those who see their lives as working with addicted people- I think its imperative to be read up on the most recent data.
Just the few things I have shared with some of these friends seemed to have had a positive impact on them.
A few times some friends have said ‘I never heard that’ when speaking about the other statistics on recovery.
I tell them ‘I know you never heard it- because you are not reading any of the more recent material on addictions’.
So- as I get ready to close this part of the journal [I will continue this journal- but practice what I said in this post- move on].
I pray for all of you readers- I see you as family [an on-line community].
Maybe you feel a need to take the 30 day test.
Which means you will simply comment at the end of this post and say I’M IN.
You will commit to 30 days of not doing an addictive act.
Whether that be porn- alcohol- drugs.
Or maybe all 3!
Either way- if you want- take the test.
Give yourself room during this test trial.
If it helps- say ‘you know- I can at least try 30 days’.
Some feel leaving this lee-way, that not saying up front ‘I will quit for ever’ helps with the test.
My view is- decide to NEVER go back.
But for those new comers to the test- at least give it 30 days and see what happens.
Okay- that’s it for today.
About 2 months ago I made a decision [with Gods leading] to dedicate my time to the halfway house.
At first I was trying to continue the street ministry to the homeless guys- and do the halfway house too.
But because of numerous things- I thought ‘can’t keep doing both’.
So- I stuck with the ‘new thing’ that I felt God was doing- at least for now.
One of the regrets I have- is some of my old friends have been asking ‘where’s John- why doesn’t he come see us any more’.
When I hear this [there are a few guys who are connected to the halfway house- and they also see the street guys- that’s how the message gets relayed].
I tell them ‘hey- tell the guys if they want to stop by- they can’.
So every so often [like yesterday] the guys come by and see me.
One of the friends that helped me out at the mission was Mark.
Mark was a cook- and he would always see me hanging out with the guys.
Eventually we became pretty good friends- and he would give me donations of extra food and stuff for the halfway house.
Just these last few months Mark opened up a little- talked about his past- how he quit doing crack [I know he did- because when you’re doing crack/meth- you can’t hold down a cooking job like Mark].
So the past few months we kinda got to become friends.
This week has been a high crime week in Corpus Christi.
We had the 6th homicide of the year take place in our little ‘suburb’ called Flour Bluff.
The ‘Bluff’ [as the locals call it] is known for the homeless population.
Though there are nice areas [I live in one].
But because we are right off the gulf- water all around- you have people wind up down here- sort of the last stop before you go to Mexico type thing.
So- for me it works out well- because I have a made to order group of people I can help.
That’s the ministry I always felt called to- and the homeless guys have been my friends for years.
So- whenever I hear someone was killed- I watch the local news to see if I know the guy who did it- or the victim.
And over the years- I think I have seen them on both sides of the aisle.
So- as I watched the news this week- the guy who was killed- his name didn’t ring a bell.
But last night- on the news- they arrested my friend Mark for the murder.
I was surprised- Mark was a cook- not a street guy.
Yeah- I already added Mark to the prayer list of prisoners I pray for weekly.
About a year ago I felt the Lord wanted me to start visiting some friends in prison again.
I used to do a jail ministry- and I wanted to try it again.
But I thought maybe I’ll just pick one of the many cases of guys getting sent up- and just write and offer some help [ride his family to see him- stuff like that].
Of course now I will visit Mark.
I do not know if he is guilty of course.
The crime was reported as both a robbery and murder.
In Texas that’s a capital offense- a death penalty crime.
I ask you to pray for Mark- his last name is Baker.
Of course pray for the family of the boy who was killed- yes- regardless of who did it- this boy and his family are victims of a severe crime- and they need prayer too.
Yeah- I felt bad that I ‘walked away’ from the Bluff ministry a couple of months ago.
Mark was one of the main guys who would ask me ‘how’s the halfway house going John’.
He started really talking to me about God- how when he grew up he was in one of those strict Baptist type homes.
Yeah- Mark would have been one of the guys who would ask ‘what happened to John- I haven’t seen him’.
I do feel very bad about it- almost guilty.
Sorry mark- hope to see you soon.
‘Mans Search for Meaning’
Just started reading the Victor Frankl book- Mans Search for Meaning.
Frankl was a prisoner of the Nazis during the war and he wrote this short book on the way men handled their experiences.
He developed Logo therapy- a psycho therapy- a way to deal with human issues.
Frankl was a Neurologist and he used his time in the camp as a personal experience in dealing with the heart issues of man.
As he observed his fellow prisoners he noticed that those who survived were those who maintained hope for a future.
They looked forward to a day when better things would get better.
If they held on to a greater purpose for their suffering- then they could survive.
Those who lost all hope- even if they were in better shape physically- died.
Frankl’s approach was called Logo Therapy.
[Note- as I looked some of this up in Wikipedia- they had a wrong definition for the Greek word Logos. They said it meant ‘to know’. Actually the word Logos means ‘WORD’. The word for knowledge in Greek is Gnosis. I did correct it- surprised they took my correction- I was not even logged in. But be careful with Wikipedia- anyone can say anything I guess?]
Frankl countered Freud’s philosophy of Hedonism.
Freud [who Frankl read] said the purpose of man is to simply maximize pleasure.
But how could a philosophy like that help the Nazi prisoner?
His life is one of little- or no pleasure.
There needed to be a greater meaning behind life in order for the prisoner to survive.
Frankly did like the words of Nietzsche ‘He who has a why to live for can bear almost any How’.
One of the great insights of Frankl was man can abuse men- take away all he has [they were stripped- literally- of all they had- their identities were taken from them].
But there is one thing others cannot rob you of- that’s the way you choose to respond.
Of course Frankl was Jewish- and the bible- Old Testament- does contain these truths.
The story of Job- especially chapter 7- speaks of man in utter hopelessness.
A few years ago while praying regular for my friends in prison- I began identifying with those who were given seemingly hopeless penalties.
Sandra Briggs- a woman I have never met or spoken to- she owned a jewelry store.
I read about her case in the San Antonio paper.
Her husband was shot and killed during a robbery a few years ago.
She had a few drinks at an older type bar one night- sort of like a watering hole for older people
On the way home- in the dark- there was a car parked in the road.
Of course she did not see it- you would not have to been drinking to have not seen it.
The car was involved in an auto accident and when she hit it- the vehicle ran into an off duty officer who was there to help.
She killed him.
When she got out of her car she had no idea someone died.
At the scene she spoke to the cops- and thinking no harm was done- she waited with them there- almost grateful that no one was hurt.
But she did not know that the off duty officer was killed- half of his body was lying over the side rail.
She thought he was bending over looking for something.
In court they portrayed her as laughing while she cut the man in half- who was RIGHT THERE!
Like she knew of the death.
This lady- around 65- was given 45 years in prison.
Okay- that’s one case- I pray for this lady every week [along with hundreds of other cases like this that I have collected over the years].
I began to identify with them.
She must feel hopeless.
She will die in prison.
Frankl said that when we lose hope- then we lose the will to live.
But the prisoners who somehow were able to ‘see’ a future- a time when they might get out.
Then this carried them.
The book of Romans says ‘we are Saved by Hope- but hope that is seen [already achieved] is not hope- but we hope for the things that we don’t have yet’.
The book of Proverbs says ‘without a vision the people perish’.
Those who were able to see a purpose in their suffering- they survived.
Those who saw no purpose- no future- these died.
Are you going thru stuff?
Are things difficult for you?
Find purpose in the suffering- don’t seek an immediate release.
The Psalmist said ‘It was good for me that I was afflicted- before I was afflicted I went astray- but after I kept thy word’.
The writer of Hebrews says ‘no discipline for the present seems to be joyous- but grievous- never the less after it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who go thru it’.
Try to find purpose in your struggle- God will turn it into gold.
I want to give you an update on my friend Mark.
I mentioned the other day that he was arrested on the charge of murder.
Well- it was a false arrest!
That’s so bad- his face was all over the news for a day or so.
Yeah- they found another guy- who looked similar- with the name Mark.
How do we respond when we hear allegations- or actual crimes that others have committed?
A few years ago a good friend of mine killed another man.
It was later determined to have been in self defense.
But after the incident I noticed that our neighbors shunned the man- they wanted nothing to do with him.
He is a good friend- I see him as the guys I have helped/worked with for many years.
Not that he is homeless- but the same type of ‘brotherhood’ feeling you get when you become friends in a community.
So- one day I felt the Lord telling me ‘John- go see your friend- he needs encouragement’.
So I walked across the street and rang the bell.
I had a good time with my friend- and you could tell he was feeling isolated.
The sense of your friends and neighbors turning their heads when they see you- or actually cursing at you.
I shared with him a few scriptures ‘don’t fear the reproach of men’ ‘the reproaches of those that reproach you are fallen on me’.
I told him that we often see Jesus and his death on the Cross as being for our sins- which is true.
But these verses speak about him bearing our reproach- those very feelings we get when others see us in a negative light.
I said to my friend ‘see Jesus taking those looks you get- when others turn away or reproach you- realize at that moment how Jesus felt- he bore those things too’.
The book of Hebrews says ‘Consider him who endured such contradiction of sinners against himself- lest you be weary and faint in your minds’.
We are commanded to ‘consider him’.
Specifically this aspect of Christ’s suffering- the ‘contradiction of sinners’.
The prophet Isaiah says ‘he was bruised for our sins- the price for our peace was upon him- he was despised and rejected of men- a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief’.
It’s at these times- when people despise you- that you can identify with Christ in a greater way.
Are you in that position now?
Have you experienced it in the past?
When we are going thru it- it’s never fun- but the Apostle Peter and James say that the trying of our faith works in us a very valuable thing.
‘The reproaches of those that reproached you- are fallen on me’.
When we go thru it- it’s more precious than gold.
1988 LOVE NEVER FAILS
Yesterday we had a good day at our Halfway House.
At first I didn’t think it would turn out that way- I texted the guys early and no one answered.
Sometimes the guys are gone- or actually bailed out [and left- hopped to another one down the block- our house is located on a street where you could walk to the other ones in town].
So I knocked on the door and no one answered.
I unlocked the door with my trusty key.
Heck- the guys were sleeping on the floor in the living room and in the bunk room.
It looked like a kid’s slumber party!
Yeah- felt no guilt about waking them boys up.
I told David that’s the way I like the house- full of guys and getting up- praying- reading- just having clean fellowship.
I noticed some of the guys simply need friends they can hang with- who are clean.
Some of the guys relapse because they tell me ‘John- drinking/crack- etc- is all I know- all my friends and everything I have done is surrounded by this’.
Yeah- some guys relapse because they see it as their whole life.
I feel bad for these boys- they are young- smart- the world ahead of them.
And they somehow got stuck early on- I try and encourage them to have visions of a good future- don’t see your life surrounded by addiction- or even the identity of ‘no addiction’.
Huh- what’s that mean?
It’s also unhealthy for their lives being surrounded by the environment of simply being an addict/alcoholic who doesn’t use.
Now- don’t get me wrong- we encourage the guys not to use [by the way- I’m still clean as well- have not relapsed- by Gods grace].
But I see the need for them to get some structure- have some healthy- normal- life goals.
Okay- my friend Mike stopped by the other day.
One of my street friends from the Bluff.
Every so often my old friends will stop by.
I have lost about 30 or so pounds since I stopped drinking.
Yeah- for real.
I told my wife I feel better- it’s healthy to lose weight.
She tells me ‘yeah- but not being anorexic’!
So mike [like the other Bluff rats] hasn’t seen me in a few months.
If you haven’t seen me in a while- you would think I have cancer or something because of the weight loss.
Mike asks ‘are you OK’?
He looked hesitant- sometimes the guys think I’m mad at them- that’s why I haven’t gone by the homeless spots.
So as he mustered up the nerve to ring the bell- I felt bad for my friend- he looked worried.
Like I might say ‘no- leave’.
Of course I would never do that.
I treated Mike like a brother.
He came in- just talked for about an hour.
I noticed over the years its good for the guys to have someone to simply talk to.
I’m glad I received Mike like a brother.
He told me he called his dad [his family lives here- but they have had problems over the years].
Mike said his dad said ‘leave us alone- your mother has been sick’.
Mike told me some times his dad says ‘don’t call us anymore’.
And he won’t for months- then maybe he’ll see him and his dad will say ‘where have you been’.
The way he explained it- you could tell Mike feels rejected- who wouldn’t?
Imagine if I slammed the door in his face this day?
In the letter of 1st John- John says ‘Beloved- let us love one another- for love is of God and every one that loveth is born of God- and knoweth God. He that loveth not- knoweth not God- for God is love’.
1989 WHO SAYS YOU CANT GO HOME- Bon Jovi
Sold the Van yesterday.
Yeah- at least I took the NY-NJ trip before the sale.
I bought the van new in 97- never actually used it to sleep in on a road trip.
This past year I met a friend who hung out at the mission- Will.
He had a van similar to mine and he was traveling the country and living in the van.
I envied him- sort of like a bucket list thing.
I took the trip a couple of weeks later and even parked in the Wal mart at the bottom of the hill I grew up on.
To my old friends from N.J. – it’s the one at the bottom of 91st street- by the NB swimming pool.
I slept in it for one night at Wal Mart.
A couple of weeks ago I put my classic 1966 Mustang [GT- 281- 4 barrel Holley- the works!] on Craig’s List.
My kids are like ‘you’re selling the Mustang?’
Yeah- they knew at that point that I was really heading north.
So- that’s that.
I finished the Victor Frankl book- Mans Search for Meaning.
I did like it- its’ a classic.
I guess the only other point to mention from the book was how Frankl observed the 3 stages that the Nazi prisoners went thru.
The initial stage was shock.
Then they went into a sort of ‘dead zone’- where they got used to it- as much as one could.
But some- upon release- did not respond well right away.
Their minds were so tormented- they were so devalued by their captors- that they did not immediately regain a sense of hope.
Frankl noted that those in the camps who lost all hope- they died before the others- even if they were in better shape physically.
Hope- to have some meaning in life- to see a purpose to our struggles.
These are the things that keep us going.
When you take hope away from a person- no purpose to what they are going thru.
Then they die.
But- if you see a purpose- even in great difficulty- then you can pull thru.
The book of Hebrews says ‘who for the joy that was set before him [Jesus] endured the Cross- despising the shame- and is set down at the right hand of God’.
Isaiah says ‘I have seen the travail of your soul and am satisfied- I divide to you the spoils with the great- because you were numbered with the transgressors and bare the sin of many’.
Hebrews again ‘every priest chosen from among men struggles with the dame difficulties that those he prays for also struggle with- so he may be able to identify with them’.
Yes- see a purpose in your trial- in the end- it is more valuable than gold.
1990 THE GOLD WATCH
I have hesitated to ‘make light’ of any of this- though- believe it or not- I have laughed about a few things during this ordeal.
Okay- for my buddies reading this when I’m gone [I plan on posting this whole thing after I move out of Texas- this year].
Okay- For those of you who follow my posts- I started the halfway house with John David.
He has 2 brothers- Andy and Huey.
I have posted their pics this last year and kinda told parts of their stories.
They are all real good friends who I will miss- like all my homeless street friends- I loved these guys like brothers- for real.
So John David and Andy are doing good- after years as addicts/alcoholics on the street- they are clean.
But Huey is still living the addict’s life.
Now- I still help him at times- have let him crash out in the little room I fixed up for the street guys.
He has told people ‘that’s my room’.
Huey has his guitar hanging on the wall and stuff- so he ‘thinks’ it’s his room!
Now- a few months ago he told me ‘John- I do have some valuable things I have collected over the years- would it be alright if I used your place to keep them’.
Lots of the street guys have stuff scattered all over the place.
So- I told Huey sure- and over the weeks he has brought stuff by- some stuff is valuable [surprised the heck out of me].
I guess the most valuable thing is this gold pocket watch- real gold.
It’s nice- I had seen it before and told Huey I liked it.
Now- I don’t want to crack jokes here- but after this whole incident happened- at first I told the guys straight up ‘look- I might have flashed some girl while drunk and have to go to court’ [see- I think I was confessing too much- things I later realized were not true- not 100%].
So- being we are real open with each other- as you can see- I really didn’t get a lot of slack from David and his brothers [actually they were supportive- realizing this was a big thing].
One time we were driving by some apt’s where the halfway house is located [rough side of town]- and I tell David ‘hey- these have 2 floors- with a nice outside porch- that would be great for another halfway house’.
David says ‘yeah- and you could flash the hookers from the balcony’.
Okay- just saying I did not get a lot of slack from the guys.
But- the ‘funny’ part was- Huey must have heard the scoop.
‘Yeah- Johns out getting drunk….’
The whole 9 yards.
Now- you must understand that Huey and some of the guys are living the street life.
They are addicted- and they make no bones about it.
And yes- these guys are thieves- they will rob you in a second [the only reason I have never been robbed is they see me as a good friend- even though they will rob from each-other- they don’t rob from me. You know- an ‘honor among thieves’ type thing.]
So- being I am leaving Texas- and have already pretty much pulled out of the bluff.
The guys have all been calling and asking ‘where’s John- tell him to come see us’.
To be honest- I feel bad about the whole thing- and I know some of my friends [Henry] feel bad- they were true friends.
So- Huey must have called my phone about 100 times- and I just don’t answer [he usually has a million errands he wants to run- I learned to just not answer the thing].
But- he realizes I’m not the stellar tower of character he once thought [are any of us?]
And he must be thinking ‘geez- I have my gold watch at Johns house- hope he didn’t pawn the thing for beer!’
See- there are some funny spots in all of this.
So- he finally just shows up at the house one day [which is fine- I still want the guys to use the room I fixed up for them- I also regret losing that as well].
But as soon as he rings the bell he asks ‘hey John- do you still have my watch- can I see it’.
So I show him where it’s hanging and he has this sigh of relief!
That was funny- the thing is probably stolen anyway [it has some guys name inscribed on it] yet he was worried that I sold the thing for beer!
Okay- by the way- I’m still ‘clean’.
Yeah- getting ready to get my 60 day coin from AA.
I’ll be honest- this probably was not the best time to try and get sober- but believe it or not I haven’t had a drink thru the whole thing.
And o yeah- I’m leaving Texas- with that darn pocket watch in my bag! [Isn’t there a verse that says the laborer is worthy of his hire? Okay- maybe not].
‘WHERE A TESTAMENT IS- THERE MUST ALSO BE THE DEATH OF THE TESTATOR’
I have this verse hanging up here in my office.
It comes from the letter to the Hebrews [New Testament] and it speaks about the New Covenant.
The writer is saying that just like the first law/covenant God gave under Moses- it was sealed by the blood of animals.
So the New Covenant- our partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ- has been sealed by the death of Christ on the Cross.
I have this verse hanging right next to the mesquite wood sculpture of Christ that I bought last year.
As I have blogged very honestly this year- I felt like God was saying this can be for the salvation of many people.
There is a prophecy in the bible about the Virgin Mary- it says ‘a sword will pierce thru your own heart also- so that the thoughts of many hearts can be revealed’.
Mary went thru brokenness- she lost her Son to a cruel death- but God said her own torment would benefit others.
Now- I want to be careful here- the apostle Peter tells us we should not suffer as a killer- or wrongdoer- etc.
That is- any ‘suffering’ or stuff I go thru- as a result of sin- that’s different than the type of suffering Mary and Jesus went thru.
But I’m applying the principle of the ‘death of the writer of the testament’.
That is- if the things you read- if my on-line community benefits from any of this- it is because of this principle.
There is another verse that says ‘some men’s sins are revealed before hand- others follow them later on’.
This means God wants believers to deal with things in this life- not wait for the final judgment to get them out in the open.
The apostle Paul says the same thing to the Corinthians ‘for this cause many are weak and sick among you- you are being judged now [in this life] so you will not be judged at the end’.
I could give you a few more quotes like this- but I think you get the idea.
This principle- of open confession to one another- is a biblical one.
But it’s very hard to do.
Our Catholic friends practice this better than Protestants.
Protestants don’t practice confession- Catholics do.
Now- I know some say ‘no- I confess my sins to God- I don’t need any man for that’.
Actually- The book of James says we should confess our faults one to another and pray one for another that we may be healed.
I think in a way- this journal that I’m doing for 2013 might be of more benefit than all the other stuff I have taught over the years.
These past few months I noticed that when I openly talked about this whole thing- and even though there were some real questions about this case- yet the openness of saying stuff like this- and talking about addictions.
I noticed after I spoke openly- others began being open too.
Some would say ‘I’m finally free from the obsession of addiction’ [after a few weeks of talking openly about it- some struggled for years thinking they were alone in their trials- then they heard me talk about stuff- and that helped them].
I have had some friends really see God at work in the area of sex addiction- because they were never really open about this stuff- until I went thru my difficulty- and openly discussed it.
So- where a testament is [any testimony that we give- preaching- blogging- etc.] There MUST ALSO be the death of the testator [the writer].
Yeah- it doesn’t feel good at all- but greater love has no man than this- that he lay down his life for his friends.
Sometimes that means being willing to admit/talk about stuff that you normally would not discus- yes- there is a sense of death that takes place- a ‘sword piercing thru your heart’ type thing- but it’s so the thoughts of many hearts might be revealed.
- MICHAEL THE ARCHANGEL- DEFEND US IN BATTLE
Yesterday I spent a little time with Bret- one of our first halfway house friends.
He came in a few months ago- left us for a little while and they came back.
I like Bret- sort of like the buddies I have made over the years.
Bret’s my age- 50.
Some of the guys are older- others younger.
A few months ago I had a dream- now- sometimes they mean something- other times they don’t.
As soon as I had this dream- I knew it meant something- even though I did not like what I thought it meant.
As a Protestant- no- not gonna say that any more.
As a Christian- the past few years I have incorporated some Catholic prayers into my prayer time.
One that I like is the prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel.
I memorized it a while back and pray it weekly.
So- one day while I was at the mall I saw a small statue of Michael- with his foot on satan.
This image is famous in religious art- you see prayer cards and stuff with the same thing on it.
It actually comes from the book of Revelation- it depicts Michael with a chain around the neck of the dragon [satan].
So- I have this little statue in my yard- when I pray the prayer- I see the statue sitting there on my a.c. [yeah- not too spiritual].
So- right before I woke up one morning I had a short dream/vision of this statue being struck and falling down.
I knew this meant our protection was down- somehow I opened a door to the enemy- and it would not be shut until something happened.
This was one time that I wish the vision/dream was a fluke- but somehow I knew it was not.
Within a few days- the proverbial stuff hit the fan- and the rest is history.
Now- when Bret first came to our little group- I took him to the hospital one day- he was one of those guys who was on the verge of death due to withdrawals.
Yeah- Bret just had a seizure the other day walking back from the bus stop and woke up in the ambulance.
So- when I sat with him at the doctor- this was the same time I began seeing the significance of the St. Michael prayer.
I’m sitting there next to Bret- he has tattoos from head to toe.
And his right leg is right in front of me- and it’s hard to make out all the tattoos- there are so many.
As I look at the one staring me in the face- it’s this huge depiction of St. Michael with his foot on the head of the dragon.
Yeah- I knew God was speaking to us.
As I get ready to leave Texas- I’m almost at my 60 days of no drinking [or any other addictions!]
Bret had the same amount of ‘clean time’ as me- but he messed up and is back on the first few days.
I told Bret to not give up- I’m not sure when I will leave- but I hope to see him back at 30- 60 days clean before I go.
If I remember- when I post this whole journal- I’ll also post the picture of Bret’s Tattoo- you’ll have to look for it- it will be somewhere on my Facebook page.
I love Ole Bret like a brother.
He told me some tales about his years living the Hobo life.
A few years ago he was right where I’m going to move- he was hanging out by the G.W. bridge in NYC.
He told me how he took a ride from some cabbie- then I guess he didn’t have the cash- and the guy took out a hammer and tried to kill him!
He told me how he got some job doing squeegee work- there were a bunch of Black guys competing- but he muscled himself in and hung with them.
When he was living in Cali- I think Ventura- he lived with a bunch of homeless guys- he was designated to make the store run once a week.
He took the shopping cart and went up the hill and hit the stores [ legally- for food and stuff].
All the other guys had warrants- Bret was clean.
As he told me the story- living right by some river bank- I could see the scene in my mind.
Somehow it was like watching a vivid movie on the big screen- yeah- it ‘looked’ cool.
Then he told me one day he challenged the ‘president’ of this little hippie commune.
Bret’s job was treasurer- but the president- Kenny Riley- well he earned the top spot.
You got the job by getting in the pit [like an MMA octagon type thing].
And you went at it- for real.
You know ‘2 men enter- one man leaves’ type thing.
Bret was honest- he told me Ole Kenny didn’t have the title for nothing- he choked Bret out- for real.
I would kid Bret after he told me this- you know ‘be careful- someone might pull a Kenny Riley on you’.
He got a kick out of that.
Bret is just one of the many friends- brothers- I have made over the years.
On this next stop of the journey [of life] I’m sure I will make some more.
Maybe next year you will see some new pics- of my new ‘crew’ from NYC.
Or maybe right in the old town- North Bergen [Steve Winwood- Back in the High life again!]
Yeah- this has been my life for many years- I love helping the guys.
Now that I’m ‘clean’ as they say- I feel much better doing it.
O- Bret if you’re reading this- I will visit you some day again- hope you make it my friend- you almost died on us a few times.
May Michael ‘on the leg’- war over you in heaven- God bless my friend- God bless.
THE LIGHT IS GOOD
The other day I went to visit a friend.
We have both been doing the AA meetings- and every so often we’ll ask each other ‘how many days do you have clean’.
We keep track because we get coins after so many days [30-60-90-etc.]
I noticed the last few weeks when I would ask ‘how many days now brother?’
He would get testy- so- without judging I had a feeling he might have messed up.
He is a good friend- a co-worker in ministry- but we try and keep this on an honor system type thing.
If you say you’re clean- we pretty much accept that.
I noticed some of my friends are surprised how open I have been about my own problems- and it makes them think they too need to share stuff.
So- when I saw my friend the other day- he looked sick.
He was alone at the halfway house and told me he thought he might be having a heart attack.
I talked with him for about 30 minutes- kind of ‘diagnosed’ him [used to ride the ambulance for many years].
And I told him- just to be safe- he should go get checked out.
Sure enough they admitted him- he did have a heart attack.
I stopped by a day or 2 later- by the halfway house- and the guys told me he was getting released the night before- and had a stroke at the door!
So- they kept him for another few days.
I went to see him- and after a few minutes he told me he needed to be open with me.
He took a hit from a ‘bowl’ the other night [crack/meth].
At first I was surprised- well- shocked.
We have been good friends for a long time- and I always knew my friend was an alcoholic- he’s about 10 years older than me.
But I never knew he did crack.
As he confessed this to me- he said as he was leaving the hospital after the heart attack- he debated whether to lie and not tell anyone about what he did.
As he was thinking about this- he had the stroke.
This year as I have challenged my self to live this open community idea- being honest about stuff.
I noticed that God seems to be saying that many of us are in a ‘judging’ time.
The apostle Peter says ‘for the time has come that judgment must begin at the house of God- and if the righteous scarcely be saved- where will the sinner and ungodly appear’.
This theme is found in the writings of Paul- we see it also in the basic Kingdom message of Christ.
Repent- for [because] the kingdom of God is here [now].
Or ‘When ye see all these things coming to pass- then know that the kingdom of God is here’.
These verses are basically saying when God begins to do a work in us- not some outer ‘work’ that we often call Ministry.
But when he works inside of us- to clean us up- at these times he wants openness from all of us.
As I began this journal this year- one of the verses that spoke to me was ‘God saw the Light- that it was good- and he called the light- Day’. Genesis.
‘If we walk in the light- as he is in the light- we have fellowship one with another- if we say we have not sinned- we make him a liar and the truth is not in us- if we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness’ 1st John
When my friend told me he did some crack- I was surprised.
Then I remembered that a few days earlier I was talking about another friend of ours- who also is up in years [as compared to the younger kids at the halfway house].
Off the cuff I mentioned that I was surprised that the older guys were also having trouble with crack [meth- ice- all the same thing].
I then realized that he too was in that same boat- and he was keeping this sin in the dark- the light could not shine on it.
So- my friend did the right thing- he got it into the light- and IT WAS GOOD.
GOOD BYE MY FRIENDS- PLEASE PRAY FOR ME
I picked back up on the few books I was reading a while back.
I am still going thru the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
This is the official teaching of the church compiled into one volume.
It was put together after Vatican 2- the last church council that was held between 1962-65.
It is some what of a scholarly read- but it is intended for the average Catholic to read and understand it.
Being I have a lot of Catholic readers- I feel it’s my responsibility to be up on what the Church officially teaches.
I have found both Catholics and Protestants to be misinformed about the actual teaching of the church.
One time I was watching one of my favorite priests on EWTN.
He had on a Catholic author who wrote a book critiquing all the silliness you see in the so called End Times Teaching [the real nuttiness on all these types of teachings- which seem to fill the airwaves of ‘Christian TV’].
Though I agreed with the author’s approach- at one point he mentioned that the church does not believe in the Bodily return of Jesus to the earth- but only a sort of spiritual return.
Now- I am very familiar with the various views on this- as well as the actual teaching from scripture.
And when I heard this- from an ‘official’ Catholic writer- I immediately knew he was misinformed.
A few seconds later- the priest who hosts the show had to correct him- in a nice way.
So- you do have people- often times well meaning- who get it wrong every now and then.
Okay- being this post is part of an unposted journal for the year 2013- I really have not covered current events that much.
But I probably should mention the very surprising retirement of Pope Benedict.
Yes- as most of you know- the Pope stepped down- as of today the church has not installed a new one yet.
Now- I must say- Benedict [now back to Joseph Ratzinger] was actually one of my favorite Christian leaders over these last few years.
I read- and liked his book ‘Jesus of Nazareth’.
And even though he became Pope after a very popular figure who held the office before him- John Paul the 2nd.
Yet- I liked Benedict.
A few years ago I was watching him on TV- he was embroiled in some media scandal- they like reading more into stuff- especially when it concerns the church.
This past week NBC has been doing all sorts of coverage about how he stepped down because of some hidden scandal- and that the church [insiders] all knew he was going to step down- but they are hiding it from the public.
I knew the reporting was false- How?
I follow the weekly news about the Catholic church- I listen to men like George Weigle and others who report on the church.
They were all surprised- some shocked- that the Pope stepped down.
Anyway- a few years ago I was watching him on TV and I mentioned to my wife that I felt bad for him.
I knew that when he was chosen to be the next Pope- he did not want the job.
Before he became pope he held the title as the official defender of the doctrine of the church.
He kind of had a reputation as a hard line conservative.
And he wanted- at that time- to retire and simply write.
He was [is] a prolific Christian author [I think he was written more than any other Pope?]
And his desire was to go away and write [Ah- how I can understand this feeling right now!]
So- he did not turn down the job [which he could have] and he felt the Lord wanted him to ‘bear his Cross’.
So when I heard his retirement speech- he basically voiced the same sentiments.
I just clipped out his short speech yesterday and pasted it to my journal.
I’ll do a quick ad lib summary
‘Dear friends- I am so happy to be with you- thank you for your support and affection- it means so much to me- I no longer hold the title/position I once had- I am going away- I am simply a pilgrim beginning the last leg of his journey on earth- I would still- with all my heart and desire- like to work for the common good of the church and humanity- I feel very supported by your sympathy- let us go forward with the lord for the good of the church and the world- thank you- bless you in the name of the Father- Son- and Holy Spirit’.
Ahh- couldn’t have said it better my self.