Wait For It!

“Forward…”Wait for it…”, says the platoon leader as members of the platoon start to step out.  Like members of the platoon, believers need to wait on God’s orders, His lead.

At the shared meals for the homeless and those in need in lower Bucks County, PA, hosts at the churches where they are held have been speaking God’s Word to the guests. At one recent meal, a few of the guests accepted Jesus as Lord and savior. This is what they need besides a meal. Man does not live by bread alone.

In Bucks County, as is the case in the rest of the country, the opioid crisis continues to grow worse. It’s no surprise. Authorities believe they’ll win the war on drug abuse by pushing out the pusher. They believe drug addiction it is a disease, and think they will keep people healthy by keeping the carrier of the illness out, like keeping the rats away to prevent the bubonic plague.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, drug addiction is not a disease. It’s a result of a character flaw, sin, besetting sin. The only way to really overcome drug addiction or other sins is through Jesus and Biblical counseling.

People have come into my life who are enslaved by addictions. In one case, a guy lost the family home because of his drinking. Another is in jail after trying to strangle his girlfriend. Over the past 3 ½ years, in my associations with the homeless, I’ve tried to help people who are enslaved with addictions. With some people, it seems that whatever you try to do to help some people, they continue to be adamant on destroying their lives.

There’s a Charlie Brown cartoon where one of the character says that they did all they could do and the rest is up to God. I’ve been trying to help someone come to Jesus. Other than just caring that she’s a human being who needs God, I have a special interest in her.

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”  Matthew 6:33

Someone recently told me I can’t change the world. I realize this. But when God brings people and situations into my life, I try to do what pleases God. The challenge for me is to put God first, and not my own desires. I need to wait on God.

Wait for it!

Our True Home

On December 4, 2017, my beloved companion Sandi’s earthly body left us. As the Bible says, it was her tent, and her soul has gone home to Jesus, where she belongs. Sandi’s family had left framed photos of her though out the years for me, which I picked up at the memorial service in her honor at the homeless meal on February 3 in Bristol, PA. I reflected on Sandi as I gazed at the photos. 

I took care of Sandi for almost three years, after she was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer which spread to the brain and liver.  

In Sandi’s younger years, she was a beautiful woman. Shortly after I met her in December, 2014, her beauty faded and she looked sickly. She was always tired. Her vigor and her good looks were gone, but Sandi was beautiful to me.  As the saying goes, beauty’s only skin deep. Oh yea! 

Watching her body being eaten up by cancer over the past three years makes me start to realize what’s important in life, just as homelessness does. Sandi was a lady. She had class and morals. Some guy wanted Sandi to go with him, I think when she was homeless before she met me, evidently thinking because she was homeless she was a ready target for a “good time.” Wrong! Not Sandi.  

Recently I’ve been getting to know a very lively, cute woman who is searching for answers about God.  As was the case with Sandi, I have a heart to help people, especially pretty, skinny women. Seriously though, I sometimes get so caught up in helping people that I forget that I am not responsible for outcomes. That’s God’s job. I reminded myself and a Christian sister reinforced this idea, which I know but tend to forget.  I get bummed out and anxious when things don’t go as I thought they should go. I’ve been praying to God that He will handle what I can’t and that I will know my place. God’s ways are not our ways. 

There’s a problem when you think someone can bring you what only God can. As Bob Dylan sang: https://www.elyrics.net/read/b/bob-dylan-lyrics/it-ain_t-me-babe-lyrics.html 

The best we can do for others is to reflect God. “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 

God created us in his image. I try to keep in mind that my purpose is to glorify Him by doing that which pleases Him.  

In a sense we are all homeless. This world is not our home; we are just sojourners here. Sandi, who, when asked about her salvation, said “Jesus is in my heart.”  She has gone home to Jesus. I will always cherish the memory of the lady who wears the cat hat. 

Our True Home

On December 4, 2017, my beloved companion Sandi’s earthly body left us. As the Bible says, it was her tent, and her soul has gone home to Jesus, where she belongs. Sandi’s family had left framed photos of her though out the years for me, which I picked up at the memorial service in her honor at the homeless meal on February 3 in Bristol, PA. I reflected on Sandi as I gazed at the photos. 

I took care of Sandi for almost three years, after she was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer which spread to the brain and liver.  

In Sandi’s younger years, she was a beautiful woman. Shortly after I met her in December, 2014, her beauty faded and she looked sickly. She was always tired. Her vigor and her good looks were gone, but Sandi was beautiful to me.  As the saying goes, beauty’s only skin deep. Oh yea! 

Watching her body being eaten up by cancer over the past three years makes me start to realize what’s important in life, just as homelessness does. Sandi was a lady. She had class and morals. Some guy wanted Sandi to go with him, I think when she was homeless before she met me, evidently thinking because she was homeless she was a ready target for a “good time.” Wrong! Not Sandi.  

Recently I’ve been getting to know a very lively, cute woman who is searching for answers about God.  As was the case with Sandi, I have a heart to help people, especially pretty, skinny women. Seriously though, I sometimes get so caught up in helping people that I forget that I am not responsible for outcomes. That’s God’s job. I reminded myself and a Christian sister reinforced this idea, which I know but tend to forget.  I get bummed out and anxious when things don’t go as I thought they should go. I’ve been praying to God that He will handle what I can’t and that I will know my place. God’s ways are not our ways. 

There’s a problem when you think someone can bring you what only God can. As Bob Dylan sang: https://www.elyrics.net/read/b/bob-dylan-lyrics/it-ain_t-me-babe-lyrics.html 

The best we can do for others is to reflect God. “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 

God created us in his image. I try to keep in mind that my purpose is to glorify Him by doing that which pleases Him.  

In a sense we are all homeless. This world is not our home; we are just sojourners here. Sandi, who, when asked about her salvation, said “Jesus is in my heart.”  She has gone home to Jesus. I will always cherish the memory of the lady who wears the cat hat. 

Come Out of The Pit of Despair

Denial is the first obstacle to overcome when you have an addiction or other life destroying problem. You can’t proceed in getting your life back in order without admitting you have a problem. You can end up ruining your life and finding nothing but darkness.

After the holidays, at the Celebrate Recovery program I’ve been attending we started from the beginning of the 12 Steps and discussed denial, which, as the book we’re using states, is not just a river in Egypt.

Getting started. Step one:

  1. We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors, that our lives had become unmanageable. 

I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.
For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. Romans 7:18 

When addictions and compulsive behavior, we lose control and go on a downward spiral and eventually into the pit of despair.

Recently, a friend pointed out that people who aren’t on drugs can be as “sick” as people who are abusing drugs. I would use “sick” to describe people with problems as sick only in a metaphorical sense. When people are upset, frantic, they can make themselves physically sick.

I know what it’s like to be in a dark place, to feel isolated from the rest of the world – that nobody cares, that I don’t matter. Romantics (I’m a recovering Romantic) eventually get hit with the harsh realities of life, and become cynical. They are two sides of the coin. This is the case shown in lines from the Romantic poet Lord Byron’s Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage:

Roll on, thou deep and dark blue Ocean — roll!
Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain;
Man marks the earth with ruin — his control
Stops with the shore; — upon the watery plain
The wrecks are all thy deed, nor doth remain
A shadow of man’s ravage, save his own,
When for a moment, like a drop of rain,
He sinks into thy depths with bubbling groan,
Without a grave, unknelled, uncoffined, and unknown.

A nerd who lived across the street from me said that when you are in a blackhole, you travel so fast, much faster than the speed of light, that you don’t realize you are traveling. I’ve been there. I kept engaging in impulsive, sinful behavior, full speed ahead. I road over speed bumps, tore right through them. Nothing to put me in check. I didn’t listen to any counsel, not the pastor, not my parents, not my daughter, nobody!

Finally, I fell into the pit, the pit of despair.

What is depression?

feelings of severe despondency and dejection.

Self-doubt creeks in and that swiftly turns to depression.” -Bing

We don’t need to doubt ourselves. For the Christian, there is a loving God who accepts us for who we are. When we follow His precepts, God prospers us. And Jesus is with us always, though our good and bad times, and even when we are bad, God loves us. He just doesn’t like what we are doing.

King David fell into the pit of despair.  After feeling depressed David, as a result of committing adultery, writes “Have mercy on me, LORD, for I am faint; heal me, LORD, for my bones are in agony. My soul is in deep anguish. How long, LORD, how long?” Psalm 6: 2-3

But David confessed his sin and God delivered him: “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”  Psalm 40:2

Depression is driven by a state of mind. It can’t be treated by drugs. You may feel better for the moment, but in the long run drugs make it worse because you are not dealing with the sin, as David did, that caused it. The only reason for drugs is to temporarily relieve symptoms or if you are treating a physical problem, and not a matter of the heart. Only Jesus can heal your heart.

On Track

“Freedom is just another word, for nothing left to lose…”  -Janis Joplin

What is freedom? Nothing left to lose? Strange concept. So if there is nothing left to lose, then you are just going for broke? Nothing matters but the choice?  As the song continues, the only thing that matters is feeling good when Bobby plays the blues? How existential! For those of you in Doylestown: Existentialism

  1. a philosophical theory or approach that emphasizes the existence of the individual person as a free and responsible agent determining their own development through acts of the will.

As humans, we have a free will and have choices. But the key to true satisfaction is making the right choices.

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap  leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.” -Romans 6:22

Singing the blues with Bobby McGee may be fun and somewhat therapeutic, but there’s more to life than that.

A train runs best when it stays on the track. If Engine number nine runs off the track, people ask if they can get their money back.

Likewise, when we follow the right path in life, we run best. Abusing drugs and alcohol, constantly being angry at people where you blow up, seek revenge, harbor resentment, are anxious and depressed are ways we get off the track and become dysfunctional.

Take the world of drug abusers, dopers. Please!  Lives are ruined. People overdose. People steal. A reformed druggie said that there is no honor among drug abusers – people lie, are cutthroat. There is alienation, no love between people.

I read in Narcotics Anonymous a testimony from a former drug abuser that a druggie cares for nobody but him or herself. Getting high is the only goal. Druggies will steal from their own family for drug money.

Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.[a]  This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.[b]  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Matthew 22:36-40

A few years back, I did not engage in drug or alcohol abuse, but I got off the tracks and headed down a siding towards a dead end where the tracks went to the edge of a steep cliff. Years before I walked away from God, and decided I would be the engineer. I was headed for disaster, engaging in destructive, ungodly behavior. I kept going, full speed ahead, in reckless abandonment. Just before I was about to plunge over the cliff, I came to a screeching stop, as though God had put on the brakes by remote control.

Being sovereign, God created situations and brought people into my life that brought me closer to him. I gradually released control of the train to God. The Prodigal Son returned home.

After I returned to God, I ended up keeping company with the homeless in Bucks County, PA.  I became part of this community, after a time becoming homeless myself for a season, living in my car with Sandi, who had cancer. About three years ago, I took her to the ER, where she was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer that had spread to the liver and the brain. It was a rough three years having to deal with her illness, and her attitude, and my attitude. Early on, I had a puppy love for her. But as Sandi used to say, “the fizzle” fades away.

Over the years, after going through trials, we became committed to one another. Sandi was brought back to church and the fellowship of the saints until she got chronically too tired to go out. I took the Word home to her, where we spent most of our time together. I was tempted to bail out a few times, but I couldn’t do it. God put in my heart the compassion to stand by Sandi, sacrifice and take care of her. We both got closer to God and to each other.

Sandi went home to the Lord on December 4, 2017. I miss her, grieve my loss, but she belongs to God. The Lord gave her to me for a time. She’s told me “Jesus is in my heart.” As one of the hosts at a shared meal told me, God has things for me to do. I need to move forward. There will be a memorial service for Sandi at the shared meal at First UMC Bristol, 201 Mulberry St on Saturday, February 3, at 1 p.m.

With God at the control, I’ve been blessed by submitting to Him.

As a friend recently said, there is always some trial that comes up. But God gets us through the storms in life, and is with His children in the midst of them.  My friend asked me how do we know Jesus is in us. I’ve gone through situations where God has given me the grace to do the right thing. I don’t get everything I want when I want it, but I’m learning to wait on God and trust Him that He has my back and has my best interests in mind. Although my train sometimes wobbles from side to side, I wobble but I don’t fall down, I don’t come off the track. God won’t let me!

I still associate with the homeless in Bucks County. I strive to get closer to God so I can better serve people in this situation. One thing on my heart is the book on homelessness, that focuses on Bucks County, that I’ve been working on. I have written a draft that I’ve been editing which I plan to send to a publisher I have lined up. In the book, I strive to, as the 60s saying goes, “tell it like it is.”

As Christian author and pastor Max Lucado wrote, as Christians, we need to do what pleases God. We should reflect God.

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