Shine: Dare to be Different

It can be easy to get down on yourself. Most of us experience highs and lows during our journey. What God values is different than what society holds in high regard. Not always, but usually. Looking around, we get caught up in the comparison trap. We yearn for yesterday or hunger for tomorrow while missing out on today. We may come to believe our lives aren’t worth living. Yet, God thought we were worth dying for.

What a humbling thought.

God’s grace redeemed us. Christ’s blood bought us. The Spirit sustains us. Our lives have value. We matter. We shouldn’t squander the life God redeemed. Yes, we have a past. But that past is gone. We shouldn’t continue defining ourselves by our old baggage. After all, you can’t put spilled milk back in the bottle. At least not easily. We need to get comfortable wearing our new suit, reflecting the joy we have in our Lord and Savior.

Because of Christ in us, we are no longer who we once were long ago yesterday. Today, because of God’s infinite, unfathomable love for us, we are different. We are not the same. So as a new work week begins, let us shine like the new creations in Christ we are. Show the world the difference God makes in your life. Blessings.

2 Corinthians 517

Psalm Saturday: Praise the Lord!

Good morning. I hope your Saturday is off to a fantastic start. For this week’s edition of Psalm Saturday, we will focus on the beautiful Psalm 146. Last night, during our monthly chapel service at Union Gospel Mission Dallas, Ann Bailey, recited this psalm from memory. What a blessing! Ann and her husband Bill have been faithfully ministering to the homeless men at the Mission for about 15 years. They are an incredible couple who model godliness and a humble servant’s heart. Terri and I have had the privilege of serving with them since 2011.

 

We have a fantastic 4th Friday outreach team, of which the Bailey’s are a huge part. There’s Ed Czarnecki and Matt and Laurie Newby, and Michael Garrett (CEO of Trusted World), and our newest member Kurt Doty. Terri and I are richer for having them in our lives. And then there are the chaplains and the clients at UGM. They are incredible blessings as well. They remind us of how much we have to be grateful for each time we visit.

In our time there, I’ve had the privilege of preaching numerous messages, presenting the Gospel and God’s truth, in an unabated, unapologetic way. We’re not shy about sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with the men. But perhaps the greatest privilege has been the opportunity to pray with hundreds of men, many of whom have placed their faith and trust in Jesus for their salvation.

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It is these moments that remind me of the words the psalmist wrote in Psalm 146. I will praise the Lords as long as I live.

Psalm 146 reminds us that God is good–all the time–and all the time–God is good!!!

Blessings.

Psalm 146 (NLT)

1 Praise the Lord!

Let all that I am praise the Lord.
2     I will praise the Lord as long as I live.
    I will sing praises to my God with my dying breath.

3 Don’t put your confidence in powerful people;
    there is no help for you there.
4 When they breathe their last, they return to the earth,
    and all their plans die with them.
5 But joyful are those who have the God of Israel as their helper,
    whose hope is in the Lord their God.
6 He made heaven and earth,
    the sea, and everything in them.
    He keeps every promise forever.
7 He gives justice to the oppressed
    and food to the hungry.
The Lord frees the prisoners.
8     The Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are weighed down.
    The Lord loves the godly.
9 The Lord protects the foreigners among us.
    He cares for the orphans and widows,
    but he frustrates the plans of the wicked.

10 The Lord will reign forever.
    He will be your God, O Jerusalem, throughout the generations.

Praise the Lord!

Speak truth. Breathe life. Give You.

There exists, in the human experience, a certain unity. Most of us are recovering from something or someone. Addicts are recovering from the train wreck that is our life. Our loved ones are recovering from us. We can be a hurricane, tornado, typhoon, and monsoon all rolled into one. The storm of us leaves a wake of destruction reeling in its path. Trust violated. Broken promises. Lies told, sold, and delivered. Check.

You recognize there is a problem. You look in the mirror and realize it’s you. You decide to stop. But…try as you might, you can’t. Not alone. Not without help. You continue using despite the consequences and although you want to STOP. How crazy is that? You keep doing what you no longer want to do but what you’ve been doing controls your thinking and your decision-making. You’re no longer the boss of your own life. You are no longer the master of your domain. Your addiction is.

Animated Infographic: Monitoring the Future 2017 Survey Results

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You want to die because living hurts too much and causes too much pain. You cry for help. No one hears you. You cry louder. Still, no one. You are broken. Shattered. Your life is in pieces. You’re in shambles, shackled to your addiction. You look up to see bottom. Finally. Help comes.

Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESV)

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.

 

Slowly, minute by minute at first, you start the process of recovery. You are powerless over your addiction. Your life has become unmanageable. You come to believe a Power greater than yourself can restore you to sanity. Sick and tired of being sick and tired, you decide to turn your will over to the care of God as you understand him. You begin searching and taking a fearless inventory of yourself. All the hurts. All the hang-ups. All the heartaches. All the habits. You take a big step forward that requires courage. You admit to God, to yourself, and to another human being the nature and extent of your wrongs. The list is long. That’s how we all begin. Going forward, we will strive to keep our list short. Live simpler lives. You ask God to remove all your defects of character. You humbly ask the Lord to remove your shortcomings.

This doesn’t happen overnight.

Some of our dents are easier to fix. Others are more difficult and need further work. You sit down, write a list of all the people you have hurt and harmed. You determine to make amends to all of them, except where doing so would further injure them or others. Some will receive your apology and forgive. Others will shut, even slam, the door in your face. You determine to no longer be a source of hurt and pain. You decide to treat others like you want to be treated. You begin to live your life in a way that does not cause injury or harm to others. Undoubtedly, you will fall short. So, you keep taking a personal inventory, promptly admitting when you do wrong and immediately making amends. You keep the list short.

Through continuous prayer and daily meditation, being mindful of others, you improve your conscious contact with God as you understand him, asking for the knowledge of his will for your life and the power to carry it out. Having had a spiritual awakening, you live a life modeling servant leadership, carrying the message to others who, like you once were, are struggling and fighting for their lives to overcome their demons of addiction. Today, you are no longer just a taker. No. You have become a giver.

Speak truth. Breathe life. Give You.

Praying UGMD

Greg Butler testimony: From Addiction to Jesus

Need help? Call 1-800-662-HELP (4357).