Saturday, June 30, 2012

Alabaster Boxes....Going Deeper with God...

God has given me something to write this morning and I rejoice in that because it doesn't always come easy.

I approached Him with some "issues" of my own and the conversation went something like this: God, I feel out of the loop with you so I am confessing some things and asking for Your revelation:

  • Show me the beam in my own eye.
  • Show me how to increase my faith.
  • Teach me how to pray more effectively
  • Make me more effective for the Kingdom
  • Take the desire for _________(not relevant to this blog) completely away from me.
  • Show me how to pursue my vision for _____________(personal and not relevant)
After writing these things down (am I the only one who sometimes forgets what I ask Him for?), I began to study and reflect and He impressed some things on my heart.

There is no "secret formula" or "magic" words for unlocking all the treasures of God's anointing in our lives. It is a journey that begins at the cross with repentance and accepting Him as our atonement for sin. It is at the foot of the cross that we receive the Keys to the Kingdom, but that isn't the whole of it - that isn't the end - that is only the beginning.

God wants us to break open our alabaster boxes as Mary did in Luke's Gospel, and anoint Him. Instead of sitting at the foot of the cross admiring it's grotesque beauty...waiting for Him to anoint ME...He wants ME to break open my box of things that are precious to me...and anoint HIM....Giving HIM all that I hold dear and pursing Him at all costs.

At the foot of the cross is a wondrous place to be, but He doesn't want me to sit there - He wants me to get up and pursue His presence. Jesus came down from the cross and ascended to Heaven....and He has given us the invitation to follow Him - not upon the death of this physical body...but NOW...He is saying "Come up hither." In fact He has said that I AM seated in the heavens with Him NOW. He beckons me to rise up from the foot of the cross where the comfort of the work of the blood pools around me, and uncover the mysteries hidden FOR me.

I think that sometimes we wait there at the foot of the cross for a lightning bolt to illuminate all of the mysteries of God...and that isn't how it works.
He said, "In my Father's house are MANY mansions." We enter the Father's house at the Cross, but it is up to us to unlock the treasures hidden for us in each room (mansion) by pursuing God. Not by our works, but by total surrender and ACTIVELY SEEKING God. A breaking open, if you will, of our Alabaster Boxes of oil and anointing Him.

He will give us a guided tour - unlocking mystery after mystery of His goodness and His power and His divine will....But as He guides we must FOLLOW or we are left standing in the foyer waiting for something to come to us when He is saying "Come to ME!"

Father, implore us, encourage us, to leave the comfort zone of the Cross and follow YOU into full discipleship. I ask this in the authority of the name of your Son, Jesus ~ Amen.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

“Overcoming” Addiction"

Our nation is flooded with slogans concerning “kicking the habit” of drug addiction. Three of the most recognized, and perhaps often repeated words in drug abuse/prevention circles are “Just Say No.” Billboards and bumper stickers display one of the most recognizable acronyms of our generation: D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education). Our children are exposed to those three words and taught classes by those who represent the acronym at a very early age in our public education arena.

So why then are we looking at the truth of the following statistics:
  • ·         Between 149 million and 271 million people worldwide used an illicit drug at least once in 2009; which equals 1 in 20 people aged 15 to 64 who have used an illegal drug.
  • ·         In North America, nearly 11% of the population aged 15 to 64 used cannabis in 2009.
  • ·         Between 14 million and 56 million people aged 15 to 64 worldwide used amphetamine-type stimulants, such as speed and crystal meth.
  • ·         Cocaine use was highest in North America in 2009, and it had 14 million to 21 million users worldwide. 
  • ·         Opioid use, including heroin, had an estimated 12 million to 21 million users globally. The highest rates of use were in the Near and Middle East, where up to 1.4% of the population aged 15 to 64 had tried the drug at least once in 2009. 
  • ·         There are between 11 million and 21 million people who inject drugs worldwide. 

The answer is simple and lies in two radical opposites of the above slogan and acronym. Escaping the death clutch of addition is not about saying no as the slogan urges, it is about saying a resounding “YES!” to accepting Jesus Christ as Savior. And it isn’t about the “resistance” in the acronym, it is about total SURRENDER of your life to that Savior.

And nothing else works. Nothing.

It is now March, 2014. For the past 4 years I have had the opportunity of personally observing the lives of people who are tackling the grip addiction on their lives, through Christ-centered recovery. Prior to 2010, there were periods in my own life where I watched this same process (up close and personal) through secular methods. Here is what I have learned, and will be so bold as to say I know to be TRUE: If Christ is not put in the forefront and made to be Lord (look up the definition of “Lord” so you will not be thinking of the title in a “religious” way) of a person’s life – then SOMETHING ELSE WILL. And if “something else” is “Lord” of a person’s life….that person will follow the dictates of that “Lord.”

Since April of 2010, I have watched the lives of those who said “YES” to the acceptance of Jesus as Savior. I have seen total deliverance from substance abuse and I have watched many men and women go back to their homes with a new identity and the tools for living a “drug-free” life.

And I have seen some fail.

And I have seen those same men and women who were totally delivered from substance abuse, pick that same substance back up, and use again.

So, you are asking if, “just say YES” to Jesus works, then why does what secular society calls “relapse” occur? Back up four paragraphs: “If Christ is not put in the forefront and made to be Lord of a person’s life – then something ELSE will.” And there you have your answer, and the perfect segue to the second “opposite” – SURRENDER instead of “resistance.”

Many times, a former addict who has accepted Christ, is like the seed mentioned in the Bible in Matthew 13 :5: “Some (seed) fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow.” They are so extremely hyped about their new identity in Christ and their deliverance from substances that they “blossom,” or “spring up” immediately…..but they fail to dig in to the “soil.” Digging into the soil is the “surrender” part. Unless a person totally surrenders, and by “totally” I mean TOTALLY….then there will be no deeply planted seed, and the plant will not have strong roots to hold it against the temptations of the world.

A totally surrendered person will make some lifestyle changes other than tossing addiction out the window. Addition SEEMS to be the biggie here, but it is not, it is simply the by product of corrupt roots (that have never been redeemed/transformed by the blood of Christ) or shallow roots (saved but not surrendered) that could not hold their ground.

Total surrender requires, or may I go so far as to say DEMANDS, that a person change what they are looking at, what they are listening to, what they are reading, and what they are talking about. Am I getting legalistic? No, I am being REAListic. Christ has got to become the ONE thing in your life that you seek. What you listen to, what you read, what you watch on T.V., what you talk about…all of this (as much as possible) needs to be Christ-centered. As a person seeks an intimate relationship with Christ, the roots of the new life grow deeper into the good soil and strength is gained.

To put it very bluntly….Life must now become about what He wants you to do…where He wants you to go…what HE wants you to learn. Not about material needs or relationship wants. If a person makes materialistic needs “Lord”, then that Lord will dictate their life. If a person makes relationship needs and wants “Lord”, then that Lord will dictate their life. And by “dictate” I mean that every decision made will be based on that materialist desire or relationship need. The Bible tells us very clearly in Matthew 6:33, that we must seek HIM first and in doing so HE will supply all of our needs in EVERY area of our lives.

Most of us were taught the 10 Commandments as children, or have at least learned their Biblical importance as adults. When God told Moses to write “Thou shalt have NO OTHER GODS BEFORE ME,” I believe He was instructing us on how to be “overcomers.”

I began this writing to make a very simple point: If Jesus is not Savior and Lord of your life, then “just saying no” and D.A.R.E. programs will never work, and I have gotten more detailed than I planned. Let me sum it up with this warning:
If we do not say YES to Him, and SURRENDER totally to Him, then our mind and our thoughts will take us to other avenues and we will put other “Lords” in place in our lives. With other Lords, we may not fall back into addition, but the end result of following that “Lord” will be just as devastating. Joy, strength and victory will only come by making a total, 100% commitment to making Christ the Lord of our lives. God/Jesus/Holy Spirit FIRST. Anything less will NOT suffice.

Revelation 12:11 speaks of those who are rejoicing because “They overcame by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” In this verse, the writer is talking about those who escaped the great tribulation. But I submit to you that God makes this same promise to those who value HIM more than any other thing in their lives. Overcome addiction? Say “Yes,” and then “surrender.” 

(Reach out for hope:

Corcovado jesus (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Automatic For The People...more than a R.E.M. Album....

If you think God can't speak in unusual ways, such as through the name of a rock group's album, then don't read this.

Sitting in church service awhile back, listening to the praise and worship, I bowed my head, and God spoke to me. And don't laugh, because this is what he said: "R.E.M., Automatic For the People." And of course, I said, huh?

I was pretty sure that made no sense whatsoever. But just as sure as I was of that, I was also sure that it came from God, so I did what comes natural to me....I Googled it.

I read about R.E.M., the group, looking for clues. What was God wanting me to see? I looked up the lyrics to every song on the album. Was there a message in there somewhere? I printed page after page of information on R.E.M., the group, and the history of the album. And I READ it all.

I came up blank, so I did what we do last: I prayed and asked God what in the world He was trying to say to me. And He answered.
It was simple, yet profound. He said, (I'm paraphrasing here) 'Vic, I have put you in a place chosen just for you, in a time that was chosen just for this assignment. I am giving you daily contact with a hurting world. You talk to them on the phone, and you look in their eyes. You see and you feel their pain. These are THE PEOPLE....and your assignment is to be are to automatically pray for these people the very MINUTE their need is made known to you. Look around you quickly...use rapid eye movement...and be automatic for the people. You pray Vickie, it's that simple, you just PRAY."

And this is a true story. I am reminded of it today because I am thumbing through a notebook and came across all my R.E.M. research....and I asked myself, 'Have I been true to this calling/ this assignment." Once again I am humbled by how God loves us in spite of our forgetfulness.....I thank Him that He never forgets...He is always Automatic for His People...

The Lord's Prayer for Saturday...Vickie style...

Today, I offer the "Vickie" version of the Lord's Prayer. May you agree with me that this will be done - in MY life, and YOURS....

Our Father,
(He reminds me that I do not have exclusive rights - that all of the redeemed are one Body, and to function properly we must recognize the importance of the other members of the body)
Who art in heaven, 
(He dwells in the third heaven, and He has told us that we are ALSO seated with Him there. Yet He also dwells IN us....what an unfathomable TRUTH)
Hallowed be Thy Name,
(You are me - help US, to understand "Holy")
Thy Kingdom come,
(You have told us that Your Kingdom is within US...may we walk, talk and think today in that Authority)
Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven,
(.......Usher in your Kingdom through Your Body...may be we united and strengthened for the building up of Your Kingdom, never forgetting that THIS is why we are here and that this IS Your will)
Give us this day our daily bread,
(We need the sustenance required to function in these bodies of clay for this time you have placed us on earth...Give us what we need THIS DAY to carry out Your commission...knowing full well that we only need a daily allowance, for we are only passing through on our Mission for You)
Forgive us our trespasses,
(If we have wronged any person, if there is a grudge or a hateful thought towards any person, bring this to our awareness and forgive this sin)
As we forgive those who trespass against us,
(We make a concerted effort RIGHT NOW to call to mind any person we have held any offense against - and we FORGIVE that person...and in doing so, we free ourselves from the bondage of unforgiveness) 
Lead us not into temptation,
(Father, we KNOW that you NEVER lead us into temptation...we are asking that you STEER US AWAY from any temptation the enemy may try to place in our path today)
Deliver us from evil,
(Let your Holy Spirit alert us to any snare of evil the enemy will try to place in our path today)
For Thine is the Kingdom,
(We are the members of Your Kingdom - we belong to YOU)
and the glory,
(We GLORIFY Your name)
Forever, and ever,
(Of your Kingdom - which includes every  member of the Body of Christ - there is NO END....all Glory to YOU throughout eternity....the vastness of which we really and truly have no concept)
(We agree with YOU, that this is done)