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

station-1848972_1920

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).

Choose Life.

I’ve struggled finding my serenity lately. I’ve been a bit rattled and feeling a little unraveled. Addiction is a disease. Left untreated, I tend to break out in handcuffs. Accepting that addiction is an illness means recognizing that fueling and feeding my disease with drugs and alcohol leads to no good. It’s hard for people to understand. Lots of people drink and some even do drugs without getting out of hand. I know people who can have one drink and stop. I don’t understand them, but I recognize they exist. Personally, I could never do one of anything. More was always better.

We live in a world that loves labels. People like to know what box you fit in. It makes them uncomfortable if you color outside the lines or refuse to be boxed in according to their perceived notions of who they think you should be and how you ought to behave. They want to deny that you have an illness despite seeing that your life is spinning out of control. I get it. I want to deny it too. But I can’t. It’s not a luxury God granted me. For me, sobriety is the difference between living and dying.

hands-437968_1920

I can’t spend time worrying what other people believe about addiction. Honestly, it doesn’t matter. After all, they’re not the ones in need of recovery. I am. It’s hard though. We want people to like us. We like to please people. We want to make the people in our lives happy, as if we actually have the superpower to do that. I struggle to make me happy. How the hell am I going to make someone else happy?

1 Corinthians 6:12 (NIV)
“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything.

Addiction is a taker. It takes all you got and comes screaming back for more. That’s why each time you try to get sober and relapse, you fall harder and deeper than you did before the last time was the last time. You remember that night, right? You were hugging the porcelain god, puking your heart out, praying to the heavens above that if you survive this bender you’ll stop. You promise to quit using. Then you toss your cookies up in the sink. Not your finest hour, no doubt.

Luke 9:23 (NIV)

“Then he said to the crowd, if any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.”

As recent high-profile celebrity relapses have reminded us, the struggle is real. Money and fame don’t insulate us from addiction. We have to learn to live differently than before. We must keep life simple. We live today–right now–not yesterday, not tomorrow. We tackle one day at a time. We diligently practice keeping track of our own inventory, keeping the list short, making amends quickly. We learn not to take other people’s inventories. That’s not our job. Working on ourselves is full-time work. It’s not for the timid. You want it–you gotta work it.

zen-2040340_1920

People need our help. Not to help them is selfish and self-centered. People are dying, literally, from addiction. Over a hundred people die from addiction every. single. day. 100. That’s one person every fifteen minutes. As recovering addicts ourselves, we are uniquely equipped to help other addicts. We have to be present to do that. We have to show up. We have to work our program so that we can help others work theirs.

Addiction is death. Recovery is life. Choose life.

Blessings.

If you or a loved are struggling with addiction, get help.

You can find resources near you, here.

Demi Lovato “Sober”

Ministering to the Men at the Union Gospel Mission

Since 2011, I have had the privilege of leading a team of volunteers who venture down to the Union Gospel Mission Dallas to conduct 4th Friday Chapel and minister to the homeless men temporarily residing at the Downtown Dallas shelter. Some of the names and faces have changed over time. Others have remained steadfastly the same. This is true on both sides of the pulpit. Of the 300 or so men who come to the shelter located at 3211 Irving Boulevard, some have been there every single time since my wife Terri and I started going there to minister to them. Others have graduated, gotten back on their feet. Some have strayed, leaving the structure of the shelter to return to life on the streets.

I read an article the other day that proclaimed that the universal consensus is that homelessness can be alleviated if we will simply provide more affordable housing. I certainly don’t doubt that this is part of the solution. But I don’t believe that is all of the answer. Almost all of the men had a place to call home once. That tells me there’s more to the story then we might like to think or than we’re ready to hear.

Indeed, experience has taught me that homelessness is a multifaceted problem. The men need jobs and better skills, both work-related and lifestyle focused. While some might recoil at this thought, it is true that there is a spiritual component that must be addressed in addition to dealing with the physical challenges that these men face. You see, many of these men have had their spirit broken. Others, need guidance in how to live among others. Some genuinely don’t know right from wrong; at least not anymore.

There exists a clear physical deficit that we must address. We should feed their bellies. We must train their hands and educate their minds. Indeed, we have to develop more affordable housing. But, in the process of meeting their real physical needs, we cannot starve their souls. We must not fail to speak to their hearts.

These men need to have their hope restored and their faith rebuilt. They need to know that despite the current circumstances that they find themselves in, God has not forgotten nor forsaken them. While they may feel unlovable, they need to hear that God does indeed love them. And that’s the message we try to share with them.

Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’

Matthew 25:37-40 (The Message)

Going down to the mission every 4th Friday, our ministry team is able to share the love of God with these men in a real and tangible way. We have a time of worship, singing songs of faith and praise. We share a message of hope from the Word of God, and we stand with them in prayer, crying out to the Lord alongside them, lifting up their dreams and laying down their burdens. That we would do this may come as a shock to people. You might read this and wonder how what we’re doing is helping these men recover from their fall from grace. And that’s ok…we have seen the evidence confirming that it is.

dsc09799-1

We show these men, considered to be the last and least, often lonely, many lost, that they are worth loving and that they have value. Yes, their lives matter. Yes, their lives have value. Yes, life can be better than the present situation they find themselves in. Yes, with the help of others, they can rise above their current circumstances.

I am proud of the men and women who serve on our team, including my wife Terri, who I have witnessed grow in her ability to meet these men where they are and show them the love of Christ in her glowing smile and kind words.

I am thankful for our ministry partners, Matt and Laurie, Ed C., Michael G., and Bill and Ann. Their faithfulness and devotion to this ministry is remarkable and noteworthy.

It’s been said that there is no safer place to be than in the center of God’s will. I’m glad He has us here, in the palms of His hands, using us for His praise and glory. That He would use a broken vessel like me seems truly unbelievable, if I’m honest about it.  Yet, He does. Thankfully.

Blessings.