What Are You Prepared To Do?

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Malone: [talking privately in a church] You said you wanted to get Capone. Do you really wanna get him? You see what I’m saying is, what are you prepared to do?  

Ness: Anything within the law.  

Malone: And *then* what are you prepared to do? If you open the can on these worms you must be prepared to go all the way. Because they’re not gonna give up the fight, until one of you is dead.” 

Dialogue between Jimmy Malone and Elliot Ness in the movie The Untouchables 

Likewise, I ask those with destructive habits (addictions): Do you want to change? 

And what are you prepared to do?  

Like Elliot Ness, who was charged with the task of taking down Al Capone and had a street- smart cop as a helper, we have the Bible to give us the power to overcome drug and other “addictions”.  

Drug abusers should not be written off as though they are lepers. We are all sinners before God; they are not unique, and with God’s help, they can get clean. As is the case with Ness fighting Capone, the journey to be victorious over drug abuse is tough. But God gives you the resources and power. “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” 1 Corinthians 10:13 

Like other bad habits, drug abuse leads down the path of destruction, death. As Neil Young sang, “Every Junkie’s just a settin’ sun.”  

Even though people have lost their dwellings, relationships, health, sanity and have spent time in jail and rehabs, they continue in their destructive behavior, craving their idols that falsely promise an escape from the world’s hassles. They must decide to change and want to turn from the sin of drug abuse as Elliot Ness wants to take down Al Capone! 

Do you want to change? If so, then what are you prepared to do? 

A Rescue From Voluntary Slavery

The faith community has been coming to the forefront to help rescue people from the drug epidemic, a problem which Christian counselor and author Ed Welch calls “voluntary slavery.” The better programs, which are certainly better than the government funded, endorsed rehabs, say that “addictions” are sin.

The establishment’s mantra is that drug addiction is a disease, and not a character flaw. If drug abuse is a disease, then you cannot help doing drugs and are not responsible for your habit. Treating it like a disease, you would just keep the carrier out, like keeping rats away to prevent the bubonic plague.

If drug abuse is a choice, which it is, then you can overcome it. You can, with the help of Jesus. A message on Breaking The Chains of Addiction’s Facebook page reads:

“So what we have to ask ourselves is “Why do we hesitate to get people to Jesus”, why do we still put secular and worldly solutions in front of the addict rather than bringing them directly to Jesus.

Maybe, just maybe, we do not have faith like the four friends of the man sick of the palsy.

Why would we tell an addict anything other than Jesus Christ is the answer? “

In lower Bucks County, PA the faith-based meetings to help people overcome this destructive behavior, sin has been growing. Recently, an “addictions” meeting, which one participant calls a “Bible study” started at the Oxford Valley Chapel in Levittown, Tuesday nights from 7 p.m. until 8 p.m.  So-called addictions is just another sin and can be treated Biblically like any other sin. The Bible is sufficient, with the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, to overcome any human problem of the heart. Drug abuse is a spiritual problem.

Another strategy to fight the drug epidemic is to keep the drug dealing rats from bringing the disease to the public. This was tried before – prohibition. All this did was increase crime, make gangsters rich, increase taxes and government control, and create material for movies.

What helped resolve the problem were grass roots, Biblical based initiatives, such as what became known as The Oxford Group. The church, true to scripture, got involved to help people break the chains of destructive behavior and help restore people to the way God made them.

Today we are starting to do the same thing, as more faith-based groups step up to the plate to handle the problem. Christians must reach out to offer hope to a dying culture.

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. “

-Matthew 5:13-16

That Stuff Is Poison!

“Girl, I, must (warn you)
I sense something strange in my mind
Situation is (serious)
Let’s cure it cause we’re running out of time
It’s oh, so (beautiful)
Relationships they seem from the start
It’s all so (deadly)
When love is not together from the heart

It’s drivin’ me out of my mind!
That’s why it’s HARD for me to find
Can’t get it out of my head!
Miss her, kiss her, love her
(Wrong move you’re dead!)
That girl is (poison)…”

Poison, Bell Biv Devoe

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=poison+hip+hop+song&docid=607988640642564809&mid=CEEAE9DD4A9340E2787ECEEAE9DD4A9340E2787E&view=detail&FORM=VIREHT

A few years back, I overheard a conversation in the men’s room of the public library in Levittown, PA where a guy told another guy that street drugs are laced with other ingredients that can kill you right off. The guy responded that drug users don’t care about the risk; all they care about is getting high.

A wolf in cheep’s clothing

In places such as Bucks County, PA, people looking for a good high are ending up with heroine laced with fentanyl. It makes them cuckoo, wandering around aimlessly, banging into walls, not knowing what they are doing, risking death. As Allen Ginsberg wrote in his poem Howl, “I see the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness…”

levittownnow.com/2013/06/20/cops-dazed-levittown-man-stumbles-into-drug-possession-charge/ 

The added dangers of fentanyl: https://www.statnews.com/2016/09/29/why-fentanyl-is-deadlier-than-heroin/

People are attracted to the promises of drugs, but in the end this destructive behavior makes the problems and duties of life worse. They don’t go away, except for a moment. Drugs are only a mask, which when removed, reveals our inner monster we are trying to hide.

We Wear the Mask

Paul Laurence Dunbar, 1872 – 1906

We wear the mask that grins and lies, It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,— This debt we pay to human guile; With torn and bleeding hearts we smile And mouth with myriad subtleties, Why should the world be over-wise, In counting all our tears and sighs? Nay, let them only see us, while      We wear the mask. We smile, but oh great Christ, our cries To thee from tortured souls arise. We sing, but oh the clay is vile Beneath our feet, and long the mile, But let the world dream otherwise,      We wear the mask!

To overcome destructive behavior, such as drug abuse, we need to remove the mask and expose this sin, submit to God, who will heal you.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. Got is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond you’re a you may be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

We Can Do It Together With God

Everyone running to politicians for funding in order to fight the drug abuse epidemic does not cut it, exclaimed an animated presenter at a workshop at the Bucks County Faith Summit/We Can Do It Together event Saturday in Newtown, PA. Instead, a grass roots, autonomous group like that of Narcotics Anonymous with everyday people, recovered drug abusers is what is needed to help people get clean.

Back in 1931, an American businessman with a major problem with the bottle was treated by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung for a year and stopped the problem drinking. It wasn’t long before he relapsed. He came back to Dr. Jung, who told him that he was a nearly hopeless case and advised the businessman that his only hope might be a spiritual conversion with a religious group. He did. After attending meetings of The Oxford Group and having convinced the root of his problem was sin, he fully  recovered.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Alcoholics_Anonymous

Drug and alcohol abuse have a common root.

The Oxford Group

Originally a movement called “A First Century Christian Fellowship”, the group was founded by a Lutheran minister who had had a born-again conversion in 1908 in a chapel in Keswick, England. Dr. Bachman, the minister, summed up the group’s philosophy:

  • All people are sinners
  • All sinners can be changed
  • Confession is a prerequisite to change
  • The change can access God directly
  • Miracles are again possible
  • The change must change others

The Oxford Group preached that addictions are a result of sin, and that confessing sin, asking God’s forgiveness is what will enable people to overcome their addictions. Addictions such as alcohol and drugs are not a disease, a problem that we just “catch” but are a matter of choice. Only God can allow addicts to gain control of uncontrollable lives.

Today, there are groups and meetings held in churches that treat drug addictions as sin (we all are sinners), which through Jesus can be overcome. It was a breath of fresh air that the convention promoted a faith-based solution to the problem of drug abuse.

Christian booklets and other materials were available at some of the many stations at the convention. There was a copy, in summary form, of Narcotics Anonymous. Faith based talks and Christian songs were included in the convention.

At the workshop before the one with the animated presenter, the presenter called addiction a disease. Someone in the audience challenged calling drug abuse a disease. While waiting in line to fill out some paperwork, I figuratively gave her a high five.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disease_theory_of_alcoholism

Drug abuse is a choice, a sinful one. It is, as Biblical counselor and author Ed Welch said, voluntary slavery.

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.” 1 Corinthians 13-14

With God, you can overcome the involuntary slavery of drug abuse.

What About the Dangers of Smoking?

https://youtu.be/NWm6PUGpfVU 

The Johnny Smoke anti-smoking PSA played on TV during the 60s has been upstaged by the Opioid Crisis. The old folk song asks “Where have all the flowers gone?” I ask, where have all the anti-smoking public service announcements gone? Except for ads selling stop smoking products, there are no such efforts to alert people about the dangers of smoking. 

“We need to figure this out,” declares all the kings horses and all the king’s men in addressing the State Opioid Crisis, led by Pennsylvania governor Big Bad Wolf, in an attempt to put broken people back together again. 

levittownnow.com/2018/01/10/state-opioid-crisis-disaster-declaration-we-need-to-figure-this-out/ 

Although the poison from legal cigarettes acts more slowly than that of illegal drugs, it is still a destructive force in society. In the early 70s, my physical education/health instructor in college told us he’d like to go down south and burn down all the tobacco fields. “Don’t tell your parents I’m really going to do this,”, he said and explained he was just trying to make a point about how dangerous smoking is to your health. Early December, 2017, I lost someone very dear to me as a result of smoking. 

Like illegal drugs, which have additives such as fentanyl and morphine, cigarettes also have toxic additives. The government evidently does not have a problem with cigarette additives, which make cancer sticks more addictive. Jesus said that the love of money is the root of evil. Allegedly to curb smoking, the government jacked up taxes on cigarettes. The tobacco industry, and its partner in crime the government, are no better than drug pushers, whom they say they want to push out. More tax money in the government coffers!  https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/health_effects/effects_cig_smoking/index.htm 

Although not to the extent as the case with street drugs, cigarette smoking burns a hole through people’s pockets, including those who don’t have much money. In the homeless community in Bucks County, PA, some people would put smokes before food. Talk about idolatry!  

And by incessantly declaring that drug addiction is a disease, the government and its cohorts keep their tax payer funded jobs and clinics in business. Everything in modern thinking today is a disorder – substance abuse disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (psychobabble for perfectionism) – ad infinitum, ad nauseam.  

I’ve met alcoholics and drug addicts who have overcome their addiction but cannot kick cigarettes!  

Like illegal drugs, cigarette smoking has become a god of this age. Johnny Smoke is an evangelist for the apostate church “Sister Nicotine and The Holy Smokes.” And of course, like liberal churches, which adds to scripture, the tobacco industry adds junk to tobacco.  

The first line in Allen Ginsburg’s Beat poem, Howl, in essence a huge run on sentence, captures this age: “I see the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness…” 

 

Judgementalism and Drugs

Judge not, that ye be not judged.

  For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

  And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

The Bible clearly speaks against being judgmental. We are all sinners in need of God’s grace and mercy. I try to follow God’s mandate. Recently, I realized why God commands that we not judge others.

In my unofficial ministry to the homeless in Bucks County, PA, I’ve ministered to people with drug and alcohol problems and tried to get some of them into Christian rehab. One night, at the Veteran’s Memorial behind the Levittown library, as I was hanging out by myself at the memorial about midnight, a young guy who had left a local recovery house drifted in.  We talked at length, he thanked me for talking with him about his problem and he went on his way.

Recently, someone I suspected was using drugs reluctantly admitted to it for fear I would condemn her. I told her I do not condemn her but urged her to get clean.

When people condemn drug addicts, treat them like lepers, it contributes to them wanting to give up. They already know they are outcasts. Addicts need acceptance as human beings and encouragement.

Jesus did not condemn the woman at the well, who, seeing herself as an outcast, went to draw water from the well when nobody else was around. After Jesus gently uncovered her sin, He told her “I don’t condemn you” and to “go and sin no more.”

We should not condemn drug addicts, but we should gently admonish them and address their problem and treat it as sin. The campaign in places such as Bucks County PA to remove the stigma of addiction needs to be explained. Like Jesus, we don’t judge drug addicts but we should not give them a free pass for what they are doing.

Stigma defined: a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person.

“the stigma of having gone to prison will always be with me”· “debt has lost its stigma and is now a part of everyday life”

synonyms: shame · disgrace · dishonor · stain · taint · blot · blot on one’s escutcheon · blemish · brand · mark · slur · smirch

Decades ago, I didn’t follow up on a possibility of being a counselor at a methadone center where I worked part time during my early college years. At my meeting with a counselor who tried to interest me in counseling at the center, he showed me materials that pitched not telling clients that they are in their situation because of something they did wrong. The idea of sin and pastors who preach in the tradition in which I was brought up about the total depravity of man was dismissed.

Drug addiction is a choice, a sinful one. For sure, it seems to addicts that the addiction is out of control and their lives have become unmanageable. The only way to overcome addiction, as someone in Bucks County, PA recently did, was surrender to Jesus. We can’t handle such problems on our own but need God to take control of our life.

Drugs are not the only addiction. There’s food, power, money and many more.

I’ve been reading the book Narcotics Anonymous. I read that projecting events where that things don’t pan out the way the addict wants and consequently gets bummed out is common to addicts. I am not a substance abuser but I do the same thing!

In a one on one counseling center with a pastor, he admonished me to let God take control of my life – to give problems to Him.

We can have victory in the war on drug abuse not by calling it a disease, and relieving users of accountability, but by showing people Jesus in our lives and partnering with them in their journey to recovery.

We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” 2 Corinthians 5:20

The Pastor and The Shrink

In an episode of the old Soupy Sales Show, a man knocked on Soupy’s door and exclaimed “Hey buddy, you have to help me; my wife thinks she’s a tree!” Soupy replied “Why don’t you take her to a psychiatrist?”  As the man pulls a tree past the door, he says “come on, dear.” 

The conventional wisdom today is that when people have problems, the talisman to resolve them is the shrink. Have a problem, take it to the shrink.  

“Mental illness” is a misnomer perpetrated by secular psychologists. “Organic malfunctions affecting the brain that are caused by brain damage, tumors, gene inheritance, glandular or chemical disorders validly may be termed mental illnesses. But at the same time a vast number of other human problems have been classified as mental illnesses for which there is no evidence that they have been engendered by disease or illness at all,” wrote Biblical Counseling Movement founder Jay E Adams.  In his seminal book, Competent To Counsel, Dr. Adams challenged churches’ practice palming off people with problems to secular psychiatry and psychology. 

https://www.allaboutworldview.org/christian-psychology-and-mental-illness-faq.htm 

Back in 1931, an American businessman with a major problem with the bottle was treated by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung for a year and stopped the problem drinking. It wasn’t long before he relapsed. When he came back to Dr. Jung, this shrink told him that he was a nearly hopeless case and advised the businessman that his only hope might be a spiritual conversion with a religious group. He did. After attending meetings of The Oxford Group and having convinced the root of his problem was sin, he fully recovered. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Alcoholics_Anonymous 

The Oxford Group 

Originally a movement called “A First Century Christian Fellowship”, the group was founded by a Lutheran minister who had had a born-again conversion in 1908 in a chapel in Keswick, England. Dr. Bachman, the minister, summed up the group’s philosophy: 

  • All people are sinners 
  • All sinners can be changed 
  • Confession is a prerequisite to change 
  • The change can access God directly 
  • Miracles are again possible 
  • The change must change others 

The Oxford Group preached that addictions are a result of sin, and that confessing sin, asking God’s forgiveness is what will enable people to overcome their addictions. Addictions such as alcohol and drugs are not a disease, a problem that we just “catch” but are a matter of choice. Only God can allow addicts to gain control of uncontrollable lives. 

Besides the legal dope that harms “patients” dished out by shrinks that causes physical harm and masks the root of the problem, the lack of absolute truth and conviction of sin replaced by psychobabble prevents people from overcoming their problems.  

It was broken people who went to groups in the vein of The Oxford group that help reform, again, churches that became institutional, just a shell that had little fidelity to scripture, dead to the word of God.  

Without absolutes, it might be considered normal by today’s standards to believe you are a tree. 

The god of This Age

“The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” – 2 Corinthians 4:4

Recently, Pennsylvania renewed the opioid disaster crisis declaration. levittownnow.com/2018/04/04/governor-extends-opioid-disaster-declaration/ 

A declaration? All the king’s horses and all the king’s men can’t put humpty dumpty back together again.

How do we resolve the opioid crisis?

The first step is to get to the root of the problem. It is not a disease, which conventional wisdom, broadcast all over the place, says it is. As Hitler said, tell a lie enough times and people will start believing it. Drug addiction is sin, besetting sin.

Opioid and other addictions are a matter of idolatry, the worship of false gods. We worship false gods by not accepting, worshipping what God graciously gives us, but trying to find satisfaction outside of the kingdom of God. Habitually overindulging in food, even something as innocuous as cupcakes is an example of this.

Wanting to have someone of the opposite sex as a mate to share your life with is good. But when you expect that a mate will give you something that only God can give you, then he or she becomes an idol, a false God. Also, God must be put first and God must be in the relationship, as are Godly principles, such as considering the other person more important than yourself – putting your spouse first.

One of the false Gods, drug abuse promises satisfaction, but delivers nothing but misery, and eventually an early death.  As Paul Revere and the Raiders sang in Kicks:

Girl, you thought you found the answer
On that magic carpet ride last night
But when you wake up in the mornin
The world still gets you uptight
Well, there’s nothin’ that you ain’t tried
To fill the emptiness inside
When you come back down, girl
Still ain’t feelin’ right

And don’t it seem like
Kicks just keep gettin’ harder to find
And all your kicks ain’t bringin’ you peace of mind
Before you find out it’s too late, girl
You better get straight
No, but not with kicks you just need help, girl

Well you think you’re gonna find yourself

A little piece of paradise

But it ain’t happened yet, so girl, you better think twice

Don’t you see no matter what you do

You’ll never run away from you

And if you keep on runnin‘ you’ll have to pay the price

https://youtu.be/IP8G4clUJBY

Looking for satisfaction (which Mic Jagger sang he could not get) in all the wrong places – through drugs, makes you broke, lose your home, fosters prostitution, and alienates people. The drug user becomes very lonely – creates a self-imposed solitary confinement even in a crowd.

King David, after committing the sin of adultery, found himself in the pit of despair, into a great depression:

When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away Through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. Selah.…  -Psalm 32: 3,4

But when he confessed his sin to God, David was restored, healed:

Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me–now let me rejoice. –Psalm 51:8

Likewise, drug addicts can become clean, healed, restored to the way God made them by turning to God. Recently, a drug addict in Bucks County, PA who had abused drugs off and on for years, who became homeless for a season, who was headed for destruction, responded to God’s call and is now clean. Consequently, she is getting her life together, is more peaceful, and is a much more likeable person.

The Titanic Sails At Dawn

“The Titanic Sails At Dawn” -Bob Dylan 

https://genius.com/Bob-dylan-desolation-row-lyrics 

Despite warnings that the Titanic was approaching a huge iceberg, the Titanic steamed full speed ahead. The Titanic’s captain smugly stated that he “could not imagine any condition which would cause a ship to founder. Modern shipbuilding has gone beyond that.” 

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” -Proverbs 16:18 

Despite warnings that drug and alcohol abuse is destructive, thinking they are indestructible, people continue destroying their lives with drugs and alcohol. Engaging in these sins pull people apart from one another, alienate them. Love and caring is lacking. Relationships become mercenary, where people use one another just to satisfy their own selfish needs. And, as Neil Young sang, “Every junkie’s just a settin’ sun.” levittownnow.com/2018/03/17/lower-bucks-county-man-died-in-prison-of-drug-withdrawal/ 

The Needle and the Damage Done” is a song by Neil Young that describes the destruction caused by the heroin addiction of musicians he knew. Though not specifically about him, the song was inspired by the heroin addiction of his friend and Crazy Horse bandmate Danny Whitten. It previews the theme of the Tonight’s the Night album that reflects Young’s grief over the heroin overdose and death of both Whitten and Bruce Berry, a roadie for Young and Crazy Horse. 

https://youtu.be/k0t0EW6z8a0 

The root of the addiction problem is sin. People think they can resolve life’s problems by escaping through drugs or alcohol. This only makes things worse. We create problems for ourselves then we think we can deal with everyday life and its problems through an artificial remedy. We are not the captain of our ship! God is! 

Increasingly, churches, including many in Bucks County, PA, are offering programs to help people overcome the sin of addictions by getting to the root of the problem. http://www.celebraterecoverygabc.com/12-Steps.html 

Is your ship ready for an iceberg? Who is your captain? God is a captain who can get you through troubled waters. 

Jesus and Depression

Seemingly out of nowhere, it hit! Saturday afternoon a dark, deep depression came over me. I was overwhelmed with sadness, crying, and felt like I being pressed down into a pit of quicksand. My head hurt. To relieve the physical symptoms, I drank a cup of coffee and took some aspirin.  

Distraught, this problem needed immediate attention, so I texted my pastor. He empathized with my depression and understood why it was happening. Although it seemed to come on suddenly, my mentor and true friend explained that my depression did not come out of nowhere, but that my brokenness after being hurt was festering but now God revealed it, and I cried out to God for His help to deal with it. 

God delivered me from the pit of depression in short order. Jesus healed my hurt.  

I remember the lines from “What a Friend We Have in Jesus“, an old hymn that touched me about four years ago after I had turned away from God and was broken, hurting. 

Oh, what peace we often forfeit 

Oh, what needless pain we bare 

All because we do not carry 

Everything to God in prayer” 

And the line “Jesus knows our every weakness” tells us that Christ is with his children. He understands our weakness and hurt. And he heals us 

After I heard that song four years ago, this Prodigal Son came home. And I don’t want to leave home again! 

As bad as I felt on Saturday, I didn’t go to the ER or even think about starting to see a shrink. I called on the pastor, who referred me to God. By Sunday, it was as if nothing had happened. I needed no anti-depressants, which I believe, in the long run, do more harm than good. As father of the Biblical Counseling movement Jay E Adams wrote in “How to Help People Change”, drugs that allegedly resolved problems such as depression just mask the hurt. Depression is like the “check engine” light in your car that alerts you that something is wrong and has to be fixed.  

I paid attention to the check engine light and was referred to the master mechanic to repair the problem. I can better see that the idea that God can handle our problems is not just theory; it’s fact! 

Of course, as with our cars, we need regular maintenance with God by praying, reading the Bible, singing praises and through individual worship and with the assembly of saints (going to church, etc.)  “As iron sharpens iron, one person sharpens another.” -Proverbs 27:17