The Titanic Sails At Dawn

“The Titanic Sails At Dawn” -Bob Dylan 

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.” 

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. 

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. 

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 


One Is the Loneliest Number

“One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do.” -Three Dog Night

A few years ago I read in Narcotics Anonymous a testimony of a recovered drug addict that his addiction put him in a lonely world. He wrote that for the addict, there is no bond with others and the only thing that matters is getting that fix. The addict, the testimony continues, does not care how he affects others. He or she will steal every last dime from his own family to satisfy his need for an escape from reality.

Stealing, like addiction, is a sin, as is lying. I recently parted company with an addict who did both. I recently caught her in a lie – she made something up in order to get some money from me. She also admitted stealing clothes from a retail store. It’s a disease to her. Wrong! As I wrote in a recent blog, believing that drug addiction is a disease will prevent the addict from recovering. Drug abuse is a choice, a matter of the will. It is a sin. Only Jesus can help us overcome sin.

The world of drugs is a dark world.  So-called friends in this world are not true friends. Recently, when the woman I tried to help get straight (and also had a romantic interest in) would throw a temper tantrum, she’d go to where her female friend is staying, whom I believe is a druggie. In a pinch, this “friend” would only let her stay over, even for one night, if she paid her. Consequently, this is why she had to hustle money. She had already drained her account for the month, I believe, by buying drugs, which she promised she’d stop. Hasta la vista, baby!

I think she may just have to spend some time in the wilderness before she gets straight.

Although a druggie’s intentions to get clean may be genuine, temptation may overcome him or her. This is why addicts are sequestered in in patient centers and then are often taken for further treatment in a place where they are away from their druggie “friends” and dealers.

As a result of falling off the wagon, my “friend” has alienated herself from me and others. She finds fault in others, including the homeless people in Bucks County, PA. She thinks everyone is against her, including me, and finds scapegoats in whomever she can to avoid accountability. Minor disagreements, sometimes even over nothing, creates an argument. This was the case with me.

She’s in a very lonely place. The way she’s going, she may become another statistic.

I’ve been in a very lonely place, where I felt isolated, that I did not have a friend in the world, and that everyone else was against me as I fell into a dark depression. This was not caused by drug or alcohol abuse but because of my ungodly thinking and actions. After this Prodigal Son returned to God, Jesus took me out of the darkness and into the light and my world became brighter. I had become alienated from family and friends, but after a time, I became reunited with them, and it feels so good!

About three years ago I started taking care of a homeless woman who had cancer. Recently, I surprised a friend who had been telling me I did a noble thing when I told him that  I was the one who was blessed. I learned that it was not all about me, and sacrificed and developed a commitment to Sandi. I loved her and she loved me.

Once you are saved, the world doesn’t suddenly become sunshine, lollypops and rainbows, and not every time that we’re together. Wanting to live in la-la land, a utopia is the mentality that leads to drug abuse. Utopia is defined not only as a perfect place, but that there is no such place. Dystopia is a real place, the dark place of the drug and other worlds.

The Bible doesn’t promise that life will be problem free, but that Jesus will be with us in our struggles, which produces perseverance, which fosters hope. I think that many drug abusers grew up under the bubble of helicopter parents, who protected them from the vicissitudes of life. “Blue Heaven is a place on earth…” Not!

Although I’ve come a long way, I still have trials and tribulations, including the present one. Half kiddingly, I told my pastor, mentor and true friend that when my friend and I parted company, it was a wonder I did not at least get drunk (I don’t have a problem with alcohol). He said not to do that but to call on Jesus for help. I did and have been doing this.

I woke up at 4 a.m. today to write this blog, as my mind has been racing. I’ve had a mixture of anger, hurt and concern for someone whose life is spinning out of control. As my pastor recommended, I need to take time out to work on my relationship with God and to finish grieving the loss of a Sandi who recently went home to the Lord.  God can mend my broken heart.

I am lonely now, but God is with and in me.  He will send me that special someone in His time. He is our only help, our refuge and our mighty fortress.  A Mighty Fortress, written by Martin Luther, by the way, was one of the top hits on the Christian radio station in Brandenburg, Germany back in the day.

Both Sides Now

“I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From give and take and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all”  

-lines from Both Sides Now, written by Joni Mitchell, song by Judy Collins 

In a recent blog, I advanced the idea that the Romantic and the cynic are one and the same. The lofty, effervescent thoughts, “powerful feelings recollected in tranquility” become shattered when reality sets in. 

Lord Byron, a Romantic poet, seemed to worship nature but hated humanity, as reflected in the following lines:  

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
   There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
   There is society where none intrudes,
   By the deep Sea, and music in its roar:
   I love not Man the less, but Nature more,                                                                                                              From these our interviews, in which I steal 
   From all I may be, or have been before, 
   To mingle with the Universe, and feel 
What I can ne’er express, yet cannot all conceal. 
   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, 

The love of nature leads to the love of humanity, says the Romantics. Byron’s poem states that he loves man less but nature more. He believes that inanimate objects are what hold people together. Wrong! 

Another poet, George Herbert wrote in a poem “For if I should,” said he(God),

“Bestow this jewel also on my creature,

He would adore my gifts instead of me,

And rest in Nature, not the God of Nature;

So both should losers be. “ 

Resting in nature is exactly what the Romantics do! 

Lord Byron correctly believes that humans have made a mess of things. But where he is wrong is that by worshipping nature, things will be made right. 

Humans fell in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve disobeyed. But God sent His only son, Jesus to save humanity and to restore people to the way He made them. 

It’s Jesus who brings people together. 

There are two basic commands in the Bible: 

“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.’This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40 

Love of God, not His gifts, leads to love of humans.   

As a recovering Romantic, I’ve looked at both sides now, where to just say “I love you” right out loud, with no basis become just an illusion of love and the relationship faltered. As a recovering Romantic, I’ve looked at both sides now, where to just say “I love you” right out loud, with no basis become just an illusion of love and the relationship faltered. As a recovering Romantic, I’ve looked at both sides now, where to just say “I love you” right out loud, with no basis for that emotion, but now need something real, like commitment or compassion, to drive it. I’ve been spending time with a special person and have been trying to reflect God to bring us closer together.  

Chasing Rabbits

“One pill makes you larger And one pill makes you small And the one’s that mother gives you Don’t do anything at all”

-Jefferson Airplane White Rabbit

Whether from the street or from the shrink, drugs intended to improve behavior alter your personality, where, like Alice, you morph into something you are not. And in your quest to expand your mind and find meaning in life, you end up in Alice’s Wonderland, chasing after a fantasy.

As the song continues:

“And if you go chasing rabbits And you know you’re going to fall”

Drug abuse enslaves you.

“When men on the chessboard Get up and tell you where to go And you’ve just had some kind of mushroom And your mind is movin’ slow

Go ask Alice I think, she’ll know”

Drugs don’t resolve but mask the problem.

King David fell into an emotional pit. Did he call forth the royal shrink and take an anti-depressant? No. David’s depression and anxiety was a result of sin, disobedience to God by committing adultery.

How did King David handle his fall into the pit of despair? After feeling depressed as a result of committing adultery, he 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. Using drugs to feel better is like ignoring the check engine light in your car. By ignoring the warning, like your car, you will eventualy break down, with negative side effects.

Stop chasing white rabbits; submit to God!

Sin or Disease?

As the war on drug abuse continues to lose ground, as did the war in Vietnam under President LBJ, Bible based programs to help addicts overcome their life destroying behavior continue to step up to the plate to better deal with the problem.

Recently, an open meeting to help people overcome their addictions was started at Oxford Valley Chapel in Fairless Hills, PA. The leader refuted the common mantra that addiction is a disease. He showed clips of politicians and drug rehabs spouting this lie.

Calling drug addiction a disease is a marketing tool used by snake oil salesmen.

One of the participants honestly asked questions about the conventional wisdom disease related model for drug, alcohol, and other addictions. One participant spoke of the power of God who can give you the power to overcome problems.

If an addiction is a disease, then addicts are not responsible for their behavior. If addictions are rightly looked at as sin, then Jesus will help us overcome this sin, and we will be healed, made whole.

The Bible, God’s Word tells us how to overcome sin, which destroys us:  “to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”  Ephesians 4:22-24

Critics of the disease theory, as reported on Wikipedia, say the disease theory, which is applied to drug and alcohol abuse “exists only to benefit the professionals’ and governmental agencies responsible for providing recovery services, and the disease model has not offered a solution for those attempting to stop abusive alcohol and drug use.”

All The King’s Horses And All The King’s Men Can’t Put Humpty Dumpty Back Together Again

Some critics of the disease model argue alcoholism still involves choice, not total loss of control, and stripping alcohol abusers of their choice, by applying the disease concept, is a threat to the health of the individual; the disease concept gives the substance abuser an excuse. A disease cannot be cured by force of will; therefore, adding the medical label transfers the responsibility from the abuser to caregivers. Inevitably the abusers become unwilling victims, and just as inevitably they take on that role. They argue that the disease theory of alcoholism exists only to benefit the professionals’ and governmental agencies responsible for providing recovery services, and the disease model has not offered a solution for those attempting to stop abusive alcohol and drug use.

These critics hold that by removing some of the stigma and personal responsibility the disease concept actually increases alcoholism and drug abuse and thus the need for treatment. This is somewhat supported by a study which found that a greater belief in the disease theory of alcoholism and higher commitment to total abstinence to be factors correlated with increased likelihood that an alcoholic would have a full-blown relapse (substantial continued use) following an initial lapse (single use). However, the authors noted that “the direction of causality cannot be determined from these data. It is possible that belief in alcoholism as a loss-of-control disease predisposes clients to relapse, or that repeated relapses reinforce clients’ beliefs in the disease model.

Read more:

Drug abuse and alcohol abuse have a common root: A character flaw. Some 12 Steps programs, which by the way have historically been very successful, combine healing from drug and alcohol abuse with other problems. What’s said about alcohol abuse can be said about drug abuse.

Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who tarry long over wine; those who go to try mixed wine. Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly. In the end it bites like a serpent and stings like an adder. Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart utter perverse things. …”   -Proverbs 23:29-35

At the shared meals for the homeless and needy in Bucks County, PA I’ve noticed signs for 12 Steps programs.

There are a few other, walk in programs to help people overcome their addictions in the greater Bucks County area:

Breaking The Chains of Addiction, a faith based group that helps people overcome their addictions, meets at First Baptist Church in Morrisville, PA, 50 Pennsylvania Avenue, Tuesdays, at 7 p.m.  Breaking The Chains also meets in South Philly at Third Baptist Church, 2400 S. Broad St Fridays at 7 p.m.

Celebrate Recovery, a national program that helps people overcome drug and alcohol addictions as well as other problems, has a few chapters not far from Bucks County.  Tuesdays from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. New Life Presbyterian Church, 425 East Roosevelt Blvd. In North East Philly hosts Celebrate Recovery.

The church needs to bring light to the world, helping to restore broken people.

Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi 

“Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace! That where there is hatred, I may bring love. That where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness. That where there is discord, I may bring harmony. That where there is error, I may bring truth. That where there is doubt, I may bring faith. That where there is despair, I may bring hope. That where there are shadows, I may bring light. That where there is sadness, I may bring joy. Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort, than to be comforted. To understand, than to be understood. To love, than to be loved. For it is by self-forgetting that one finds. It is by forgiving that one is forgiven. It is by dying that one awakens to Eternal Life.”

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