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

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.

http://newlifephilly.net/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

Got A Light?

 

Cigarette smoking is more than an habit to many — it’s a religion.

Although now I know that before a smoker opens a pack and taps it against his/her palm countlessly, the purpose is to better pack the tobacco, this still strikes me as a ritual, a prelude to worship. Many smokers religiously light up, like a panting deer stopping for water at a stream.

I’ve had smokers approach me and offer me as much as $10 for one cigarette! One difference between tobacco and heroin is that tobacco is legal. And, as smokers have told me, tobacco is harder to kick than heroin. Heroine does, however, more quickly lead to anti-social behavior such as stealing and job loss than does tobacco. Cigarettes are a slow poison, and heavy use triggers sickness and work callouts and often to the cancer center.

Like other drugs, once cigarettes become your idol, you crave more and more, yet you never really become satisfied, except, perhaps, for a moment. “Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content.” Ecclesiastes 1:8

For decades, we have been enticed by the lure of sister nicotine – though ads, integration in the movies where lots of scenes of people smoking are shown, billboards, and even at one time, believe it or not, doctors promoting smoking! They should be tried for malpractice. The tobacco industry and its henchmen have glorified smoking, saying it’s glamorous, cool.

Sister Nicotine and the Holy Smokes is a false religion. To restore people to health, mentally and physically, we need to reject the false gods of the world and turn to a higher power than ourselves, God.

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

As a Presbyterian, in the Reformed tradition, I was taught that cigarette smoking is not inherently a sin. It was those silly Baptists (as my father was raised but changed) who believed it was wrong to smoke, drink or chew and not go with girls who do. Maybe not the chew part, but it makes a funny rhyme. But now I think the Baptists were right about smoking.

It was ironic that at a community meal a homeless smoker asked one of the hosts at a Baptist church for a cigarette. I said softly something like “a Baptist church is not the place to ask for a cigarette”, and started to chuckle. The host was gracious and politely said he didn’t have any cigarettes.

My close friend Sandi is in a nursing home. She caught lung cancer, which metastasized to the liver and brain, because of a lifetime of smoking. Decades ago, a physical education/health class instructor in college told the class that he’d like to go down south and burn down all the tobacco fields but added “Don’t tell your parents I’m really going to do it; I’m just trying to make a point about how bad smoking is for your health.”

Since I started caring for Sandi, I got the idea to contact that instructor, who was a 2nd Lt. Army Ranger who served in Viet Nam, to burn down the tobacco fields with him. I looked him up on the Internet, but found that he had died. I could imagine the headlines if the ex Ranger and I actually did this: TWO WACKED OUT VIETNAM VIETS BURN DOWN DIXIE TOBACCO FIELDS; THE RETURN OF SHERMAN.

Just a qualification, smoking has a more negative affect on some people more than others. And like alcohol, not everyone gets addicted, but many do.

When you get addicted to anything, it affects the way you interact with others and you may display anti-social behavior. As the 12 Steps rightly acknowledges, addictions, which are really besetting sin, are a result of a character flaw.

In the book Narcotics Anonymous I read a personal testimony of a former druggie who said that he had no moral compass with his addiction — that he would stoop to anything, including stealing from his own mother!

Being hooked on cigarettes approaches this problem.

Got a light?

There’s a problem when people start think that if the government approves of something, it’s OK. The government is populated by people, who, unlike God, are fallible. The government approves of abortion, same sex marriages, and gambling. It doesn’t mean it is right. These things are morally wrong!

A man who had to leave his apartment was homeless for five days and four nights before he ended up going to a colony of homeless people and meet with the Memorial Mob homeless advocate.

He was no longer going to wander homelessly alone.

After he finished the first community meal AHTN took him to, he fished out some change and said he’s trying to find enough money for cigarettes.

The new kid on the block was overheated, exhausted, and probably hungry when someone gave him two Bucks to help him out.  There wasn’t two dollars that same night after dinner just a few hours after someone gave it to him.

This wasn’t the first, and certainly won’t be the last person who when someone gave a homeless person money for food or drink, used it to buy cigarettes.

We all have our flaws. It’s just a matter of kind and degree. Sandi is a child of God, made in His image, and has intrinsic value. I’ve been camping out by her bedside daily, to feed her – she sometimes drinks her beverages erratically and the staff doesn’t have the time to keep checking back to see when she’s ready to finish her drink – and to assure her that there is someone on this earth who cares and that God has her in His hands.

Although you don’t want to enable people’s bad behavior and sometime just have to walk away, people should not be written off. Sandi is a good patient. She smiles, doesn’t curse out and fight with the nursing staff when they are trying to help her or make excessive demands like others, but cooperates with them, smiles, and often says “thank you.”

Our pastor said that Jesus only brings up sin when he can heal people from it. It is my hope that my words will convince people to not start or continue destructive habits. I didn’t listen to good advice, but finally I saw the light and came around.

A few years ago, I overheard a conversation about some drug that gets people very high, very cheaply and is extra dangerous. I heard a guy say that this drug kills people much more quickly than other drugs. This doesn’t matter, he explained, because all the user is interested in is getting high. Nothing else matters.

Burning down the tobacco fields is not going to resolve the false religion of Sister Nicotine and The Holy Smokes, no more than just pushing out the pusher will cure the drug abuse problem, no more than Eliot Ness and his Untouchables not letting anyone have booze.

To restore health, mentally and physically, you need to reject the false gods of the world and turn to a higher power than yourself, God. Healing is not instant, in fact it’s slow, but if one hangs in there, he/she will be better off.

Realizing you need the power of God in order to overcome besetting sins is the first step, as found in Celebrate Recovery’s 12 Steps and Biblical comparisons. The program is not just for addictions, but for other hang ups, bad habits, and hurts. I’ve been going to Celebrate Recovery to help me deal with Sandi’s cancer – for God to give me the serenity to accept that which I cannot change, and the courage to change that which I can change, and the wisdom to know the difference.

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

Breaking The Chains!

Today government initiatives are focusing on going after drug dealers to curb the flow of drugs to fight the drug abuse epidemic, just as Elliott Ness and his Untouchables went after bootleggers during prohibition. Reasoning that because 10 percent of the population has a problem with alcohol, authorities realized that taking booze away from everyone didn’t resolve the problem, and prohibition was repealed.

Instead of trying to stop the supply, efforts were made to help individual drunks break their bad habit, a besetting sin.  Before the well-known Alcoholics Anonymous was formed, what was known as The Oxford Group was formed by a Christian missionary. The church then got involved, as it should, to help people break the chains of addiction and restore them to the way God intended them to be.

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

All the King’s Horses

Even as far back as 1931, it was discovered that the shrinks can’t adequately resolve addiction problems. A business executive was treated by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung for alcoholism for a year, but then went back to the bottle. Dr. Jung told him that he may be a hopeless case and that his only hope may be a spiritual conversion with a religious group. And he did, and he overcame his life destroying problem.

Today the churches need to pick up the torch. Many of them are, in Bucks County and vicinity, for example. At many of the community meals I go to for the homeless and needy I’ve seen signs for The Twelve Steps Program.

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.

http://newlifephilly.net/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

Drugs Delivered to Your Recovery Door

A druggie operating a drug delivery service in the recovery home where he lives? Ricky, I’m shocked! https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=ricky+i%27m+shocked+cassa+blanca&view=detail&mid=DEF7C64EBB1A9309EF37DEF7C64EBB1A9309EF37&FORM=VIRE 

http://levittownnow.com/2017/05/23/cops-man-probation-linked-sale-drugs-recovery-home/

The recovery homes in the Levittown, PA vicinity have been a plague on the community since they began. Crime has mushroomed (or grew like peyote) since these government backed, money hacked flop houses invaded Levittown, like aliens in a science fiction movie.

As if there are not enough dopes (why do you think they call it dope?) in the general population today who are potential customers! The recovery houses are a perfect market for selling drugs. You don’t have to go fishing for customers! It’s good, however, the guy was caught, but there are a lot more fish in the sea!

That druggies are victims – the conventional wisdom says that “drug addiction is a disease and not a moral failing”, doesn’t hold these losers accountable for a foolish choice they made. Nope. Not their fault!

As I related in an earlier blog: Blaming others is counterproductive.

Here’s a folk song about blaming others:

“I went to my psychiatrist to be psychoanalyzed

To find out why I killed the cat and blacked my husband’s eyes.

He laid me on a downy couch to see what he could find,

And here is what he dredged up from my subconscious mind:

When I was one, my mommie hid my dolly in a trunk,

And so it follows naturally that I am always drunk.

When I was two, I saw my father kiss the maid one day,

And that is why I suffer now from kleptomania.

At three, I had the feeling of ambivalence toward my brothers,

And so it follows naturally I poison all my lovers.

But I am happy; now I’ve learned the lesson this has taught;

That everything I do that’s wrong is someone else’s fault.”

More about being responsible: http://gospelway.com/religiousgroups/psychology.php

By calling drug abuse a disease, the government has a better, but P.T. Barnum like, slick marketing tool. This way the taxpayer feels he is helping humanity with a natural disaster, like an earthquake  or malaria.

In Levittown, where the druggies go and make the yellow snow, people who have become homeless and are not a menace to society struggle to find a place to lay their head. Because of the all the druggies being discharged into the shelter, there is a long waiting list.

The druggies, who have chosen behavior destructive to themselves and others, are allowed to live in neighborhoods. The homeless are blacklisted!

The druggies also took to the woods. And as a result, the non threatening homeless had to move out. Bucks County Chief Ranger, Steve Long told me the raid on the homeless in Queen Anne’s Park came after complaints from neighbors about drug use – needles and other drug paraphernalia were found. The rescue squad had to go there more than once because of over doses. The woods were trashed out.

http://levittownnow.com/2016/04/30/county-officials-begin-to-clear-homeless-camps/

The recently defunded Bucks County Mental Health Hustlers have been known to drop off their rejects from the Penndel Mental Health Center made worse through drugs, albeit legal drugs, at the Veterans Memorial by the Levittown Library, who wonder like animals through the woods. The only difference between their shrinks who wantonly hand out drugs and drug pushers is that they may wear lab coats while the pushers wear trench coats. In either case, people still get messed up.

The woman accused of arson at a car dealership in Levittown, who, along with other homeless people were graciously allowed to camp in cars, had, according to the Bucks County website, a record to “Manufacture, Delivery, or Possession With Intent to Manufacture or Deliver”. Evidently, drugs were involved. As a result of her actions, people are going to be more reluctant to help the homeless with shelter.

Not all homeless people are druggies. But because druggies increasingly end up in the homeless population in Bucks County, it gives people the impression homeless people are all druggies. They all aren’t!

Drug abuse is a problem everywhere, particularly in Bucks County, PA. Mollycoddling drug users, blaming drug dealers and others is not going to resolve the problem. Drug abusers, like others who engage in other besetting sin, need to own up to their sin and cowboy up.

“I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.” –Romans 7:15     The first step of the 12 Step Program, which has historically been successful, is based on this principle. This program has been used for drug abuse and other problems by getting to the root of the problem.

AHTN Rules No Rules

We need rules, especially rules of civility, including for the homeless. People may have lost homes, but they don’t have to lose their civility. But rules are only as good as when they are enforced. Below are rules I got off the Advocates for The Homeless and Those in Need (AHTN) site. I copied the text perchance the link becomes unavailable, no longer in effect, as are rules AHTN has for the homeless. I just included the rules that have been a problem and where enforcement was lacking.

http://www.ahtn.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/TRANSPORTATION-GUEST-GUIDELINES.pdf

“TRANSPORTATION GUEST GUIDELINES

We hope that you will feel welcome while riding with us.  In order to ensure that everyone has a positive experience, we ask that you follow these rules.

If you have any questions or special needs, particularly of an emergency nature, please ask the Driver Attendant for assistance.
 
Drugs/Alcohol – Absolutely no non-prescribed drugs or alcohol are to be consumed or carried by any guest. If found, items will be confiscated and the police will be called.

Within the past few years, some homeless people have been coming to the community meals drunk. They must have been drunk while on the bus. On one occasion, a guy who was evidently drunk, whose speech was slurred started on me by continually telling me to shut up as I was quietly talking to someone on the seat behind me  He was a few seats down on the other side. Nobody from AHTN said anything to him.

An example of the other rules that AHTN has not enforced is its rules on behavior and harassment, which overlaps with, and is often caused by alcohol consumption.

Behavior – Behavior that threatens the safety of other guests or volunteers will be grounds for immediate removal from the vehicle and you will be asked to leave.  Inappropriate language and/or gestures and/or name-calling will not be tolerated.  Police will be called if necessary.

Harassment – No threats or acts of violence will be tolerated in any way.  Any attempt to impose your will on another will be considered an act of violence. Harassment in any form (whether it is verbal, physical, emotional, mental or sexual) will not be tolerated, nor will aggressive or intimidating behavior of any kind be tolerated.   Inappropriate behavior during an AHTN event will result in removal from the current activity and a limitation of attendance at future AHTN events.  Police will be called if necessary.”

Rules on behavior and harassment are interrelated. On the occasion when the drunken homeless guy kept telling me to shut up, he made a veiled threat when we got to the community meal, where he almost tripped on his own two feet. He said he’d have a surprise for me when I got off the bus. When I asked him for details, he snapped “You’re smart; you can figure it out, Gevorkian.”  I replied that I, Gevorkian, would be glad to euthanize him and added that I’d be doing a dual service: Assisted suicide and pest control.

At one point, the guy asked  “meet me outside.” I didn’t oblige him but when I started walking towards the bathroom, he stammered that he’ll get me on the way to the bathroom. He stomped up behind me, and when he got close, I spun around and went into a defensive position. Soon, one of the hosts got between us and broke it up. We separated. The host who got between us thanked me “for being calm.” The drunken troublemaker was banned from this meal permanently, not by AHTN, but by the host.

He wasn’t banned from the bus, as per AHTN’s rules.

On another occasion, about a year later, the same homeless guy who harassed me while under the influence did the same at The Redeemer Lutheran Church in Penndel, PA. He walked into the meal roaring drunk. He had taken the AHTN bus. Another guest was sitting the end of the table, talking about a court case about a homeless camp where the residents were threatened with eviction. The drunk started yelling at the man, that “what kind of life do you have” by sitting in on court cases. He started yelling obscenities and started charging after the man, even slightly clipping him in the face as he started swinging at him.

Some other homeless guests tried to calm him down. It took three of the male hosts to pull the man, raging like T-Rex, away. The maniac was ushered to the far side of the large hall. Christine and Dave from AHTN accompanied him.

The police showed up. They approached the victim of the unprovoked assault, who didn’t even make any remarks to his attacker, as I did, but the police told him the host asked that he leave immediately. Someone from AHTN told him he was banned from the bus, and that the decision “came from the top.”

When the victim came to Redeemer Lutheran the next meal it hosted, he was told he wasn’t allowed in. When he asked why, a church representative, after the victim pressed for a reason, told him it was because he was saying bad things about the homeless.

I would have like to be a fly on the wall in the clandestine corner where the hosts, Christine and Dave from AHTN and T-Rex had a private conference. It’s strange that the victim, who never had a problem with the host, was magically banned from the meals.

This gets curiouser and curiouser, Alice. At the district court, district justice Daniel J Finello Jr. dismissed the charges of slander, etc., against Christine Jandovitz, David Jones, Redeemer Lutheran Church and the rest of the defendants whom I believe were involved in the fiasco that entailed lying and penalizing the plaintiff based on lies, but entered a default judgment against the homeless man who verbally and physically assaulted the man. Had he been at the court, he may have been that fly on the wall who would testify about the slander. The judgment was made without even letting the plaintiff present his case; it was summarily dismissed!

During the time I rode the bus, up until about two years ago, there was little drama. Riders respected on another and rules were enforced much of the time. No more. Homeless people have told me that there has been a bit of name calling, occasional racial remarks (I’ve never witness any racial problems in my three years among the homeless) and harassment of women. I believe people with brought booze with them on the bus or were already drunk.

AHTN evidently believes that if they post rules, they are followed. As the modernists believe, reality is subjective. Two occasions in the public library in Levittown, PA, where the homeless are constructively banned, come to mind. One occasion was when I went to pick up what I printed from the library computer, the sticker for the computer number I needed was missing. When I told a clerk that, she insisted “all the computers have numbers.” She finally gave up and figured out how to send my printout to the printer.

On another occasion, Pat, the head Levittown librarian, frantically complained when I was briefly, quietly talking to a homeless friend “this conversation is getting heated, you better…” When I confronted her about the double standard, where a homeless person is confronted for talking barely above a whisper for a minute but some special privileged characters bring their incessantly loud, bratty kids to the library and nothing is said to them, she said that she does do something about the loud kids in the library.

As humans, we can plan to do right, but we can’t always carry it out. This is the first step in the 12 Steps Program for addictions and compulsive behaviors. “For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.”  -Romans 7:18

Speaking of the 12 Steps, the defendant who received a default in the civil suit also has a criminal trial coming up on that matter. And by the way, it was only because of the actions of some of the other guests that is holding the defendant accountable, not AHTN.

The plaintiff has already talked with a court officer to request that the defendant be given the opportunity for rehab for alcohol abuse, which brings out anti-social behavior, in lieu of further sentencing or a fine.

The principles in the 12 Steps program has historically been very successful. Here’s an example:

http://www.celebraterecovery.com/index.php/about-us/twelve-steps

From Whence Comes My Help?

In Mel Brooks’ Silent Movie, the executives at Engulf & Devour bowed at the altar of the dollar, an idol set in a golden background, reverently saying (sic) “Oh mighty dollar, we worship you; without thee we would be in the crapper!”

Jesus said the root of all evil is the love of money.

In my last blog I quoted Expedia that the disease theory, which is espoused by the state of Pennsylvania and the professional addiction treatment centers, “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.”

Like Engulf & Devour, PA Governor Big Bad Wolf is ramping up funds to fight the drug epidemic. With all the money already confiscated and dumped into drug and alcohol programs, the problem continues to mushroom. Caring organizations such as churches, that host 12 Step Programs to help people overcome their besetting sin are competing with the state, which engulfs and devours our money in order to gain an unfair advantage and have a monopoly.

Although I don’t exactly commend drug pushers – they are part of the problem – it’s the users who keep the drug industry going. Without customers, there would be no drug lords. Think of the logic behind calling drug and alcohol abuse a disease. You make users victims. It’s as if drug pushers were Pied Pipers who cast a magical spell where druggies are pulled by magic magnets into street corners where they were forced to do drugs.

There was an episode on the 70s comedy series Good Times, when JJ, the oldest, and the younger kids got busted for having a wild party when the parents weren’t home. JJ explained that some people “broke in and forced us to party with them.” This is a joke, but to say that drug abusers are not responsible for their behavior is analogous to JJ’s thesis and just as laughable.

Why do drugs? Humans need something to make sense of the world and to find peace in life’s storms. As the preacher said in this past Sunday’s sermon, some people eat excessively to find satisfaction, some shop to feel good. There are many ways people try to find shelter and help. But Jesus is the answer. He moves in unexpected ways.

In Silent Movie, the movie director  Engulf & Devour tried to swallow up, who had a problem with alcohol and whose career was floundering, wandered in the streets and saw a gigantic bottle of booze above him, lit up like a neon sign. Handel’s Messiah (Lord of Lord and King of Kings) played as the Mel Brooks’ character gazed in awe.

In the movie, a big movie producer hired a bimbo, as it said on the check they wrote to her “for pretending to be in love with” the small struggling director so he would go back on the bottle, ruin his business, and Engulf & Devour would swallow it up. In the end, things turned out well for the director with a drinking problem.

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

We too shall overcome. Christians know where their hope is.

I will Lift Up My Eyes to the Hills
“I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come?  My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.  He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber.…”

Psalm 121:1-3

Great Googa Mooga

“So heroin, it’s just as real a disease in our world as cancer is…” says a Fox channel 29 Philadelphia news report linked to Levittownnow.com. http://www.fox29.com/news/local-news/225069155-story

As former President Ronald Reagan said in presidential debates when his opponents made a weak, flawed, stale argument,  “There you go again.”

More recently, Donald Trump detractors have been making the bogus charge that The Donald is racist, with no evidence. As Rush Limbaugh said, a racist is someone who is winning an argument with a liberal. A post on Facebook has Oprah Winfrey saying that anyone who disagrees with Obamacare is racist. Former President Jimmy Carter said that people are against Obama because they are racist.

Repeat a lie enough times, said Hitler, then people will believe it.

The lie that drug abuse is a disease keeps being repeated ad infinitum ad nauseam.

The bogus statement from the recent channel 29 link on Levittownnow.com was part of a report about recovery houses in Levittown. Fox 29 is right, however by saying “Levittown, …where there’s an entire market based simply on recovery, in the form of halfway houses.” In the vicinity of Levittown, PA, there’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 recovery houses.

The recovery houses in lower Bucks County are just a money making racket, at the community’s expense. Crime in recovery house ridden areas have experienced increased crime. People from local recovery houses frequent the Levittown public library. Most of them cause problems in and around the library. As a result of the invasion of druggies, the library had to hire a security guard and put cameras in the library.

Many of the druggies who fly out of the doors of the recovery flop houses become homeless, and join the local population. One reason the general homeless have been harassed at the library and nearby Veterans Memorial is that they are lumped together with the druggie and other problem homeless.

Politicians say more taxes will solve everything!  Another article on Levittownnow.com reports that PA Governor Big Bad Wolf (who blows people’s houses down by fiat to make them homeless)  and state lawmakers “have been instrumental in many of these methods, by reversing 10 years of funding cuts to drug and alcohol treatment by expanding Medicaid.”

Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Secretary Gary Tennis repeats the sounding joy (for the drug treatment hustlers) that substance abuse is a disease. “It’s time to get rid of negative stereotypes. Addiction is a brain disease, not a moral failing,” said Tennis, who continued “Stigmatizing the disease, so that our loved ones feel too ashamed to get help, only increases the number of Pennsylvanians who will die unnecessarily.”

http://levittownnow.com/2016/11/29/surgeon-general-releases-first-report-addiction/

Politicians are appealing for more taxes for drug treatment, which they say will save healthcare, lost productivity and criminal justice costs. This presupposes that their programs work. They don’t.

According to Tennis, 3,500 drug overdoses occurred in 2015. He expects the number to grow.

This is quite a disease, known as substance abuse disorder (SUD) to take out all these people.

The only way I can explain the SUD epidemic is that aliens implanted secret messages in the brains of people that programmed them to do drugs. What we need is to get Flash Gordon to deprogram the  druggies – of course, at taxpayers’ expense.

The PA Drug and Alcohol Programs Secretary has it backwards. By calling drug abuse a disease you absolve the user of culpability. This sends a message that you don’t have to change your ways – as it says in the Bible, to put off the old and put on the new.  If you think you are doing nothing wrong by doing drugs, then you’ll keep doing it until you die. It’s an end game. As Neil Young sang “every junkie’s just a settin’ sun.”

Instead of having less deaths by drug overdoses by not pointing out that the problem is a result of a character flaw, you’ll have more.

Of course, you accept the drug abuser as you would any other sinner by hating the sin but loving the sinner.

You may be able to fight cancer with chemo and Opdivo, but you can’t combat substance abuse with a psychotropic drug, which, by definition, “is a chemical substance that changes brain function and results in alterations in perception, mood, or consciousness.” Isn’t this why the hippies did drugs in the 60’s – to expand their minds? We see where that got them.

Some psychotropic drugs are used for medical, physical problems, such as to fight Parkinson’s disease, headaches, and for hormone problems.

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

There’s a problem when emotional and spiritual problems are treated like you’re dealing strictly with physiology, which, defined: “the branch of biology that deals with the normal functions of living organisms and their parts.”

When you do, you become like the people described in the 60’s song In the Year 2525:

In the year 3535
Ain’t gonna need to tell the truth, tell no lie
Everything you think, do and say
Is in the pill you took today

Whoa-Oh-oh!

In other words, we become robots!

And to reprogram a robot who takes drugs, you just have to order it, as they say in the military “At ease, disease!”

To quote the Temptations, “Great googa mooga, can’t you hear me talkin’ to you, just a
Ball of Confusion that’s what the world is today. (yeah, yeah)”

In reality, because we are creatures created in the image of God with a free will, to resolve substance abuse problems, which are actually a result of besetting sin, you need God’s help and guidance to overcome them. The kind of program that will help is one that follows the proven 12 Steps program. Celebrate Recovery is a national program that works.

http://www.celebraterecovery.com/index.php/about-us/message-from-rick-warren

Substance abuse, like any other sin, is a matter of the will.

But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (Jas 1:14–15).

Equip for Every Good Work

How to best counsel someone with a problem, such as drunkenness is being wrestled with in the marketplace of ideas.  Addressing the question of whether Christians should attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings or treatment centers, Wayne Jackson challenges the idea of what he calls  a “hybrid religio/secular organism” such as AA. He’s concerned that, although the goal of the programs may be noble, they dilute the Word of God and don’t fully help people.

https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/385-what-about-alcoholics-anonymous

Early on, AA had a schism.

In 1921, a Lutheran minister founded A First Century Christian Fellowship, which was later called the Oxford Group.

The minister summed up the Oxford 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

AA co-founder Bill Wilson joined The Oxford Group and learned their teachings but later broke away. These teachings influenced the structure of AA and helped form the foundation of the 12-step program.

The schism: AA subscribes to the idea “once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic.” The Oxford Group: The Biblical view that the King of King and Lord of Lords can break the chains and set you free of any bondage holding you captive. Expedia reports the differing views: “In AA, the bondage of an addictive disease cannot be cured, while the Oxford Group stressed the possibility of complete victory over sin.”

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

Fidelity to scriptures isn’t a concern that started in the 20th century with counseling people. During the early years of the church, the apostle Paul and company toured the churches to make sure they were in line with God’s Word. In Sunday school class, when I saw a diagram of the route the apostles took, noticing the guys were traveling away from Crete, I remarked that they must have been running from the Cyclops. I was mistaken. The Cyclops hung out in Sicily. He liked Sicilian pizza. That’s one thing we have in common.

In the 20th century, churches in America, liberal churches, lost fidelity to scriptures. To them, the Word of God didn’t mean the Word of God, but was subject to human ideas that contradicted God. My mother used to call these churches “social clubs.”

While the traditional churches in America were preoccupied with fighting liberalism in the church, they let secular modern psychology infiltrate their ranks. For people who came to the church with problems, churches took on a policy of defer and refer to the modern mental health menagerie.

Don’t let me tell you where to go (some people have told me where to go) to church for counseling and for fellowship with true believers and communion with God. Study the Bible and learn for yourself and find a church that most closely matches scripture. This is a trend that Martin Luther started with the Reformation.

It’s important not to mix worldly beliefs that contradict scripture in counseling and in other matters. Sure, they may have in common the goal to help people. But some things just don’t mix. I wouldn’t hang out with the Cyclops just because with both like Sicilian pizza.

There are counseling programs out there that are in sync with scripture. One national one is Celebrate Recovery. It uses the 12-step program and matches each step with scripture. It seems to follow the philosophy of the Oxford Group. http://www.celebraterecovery.com/index.php/about-us/twelve-steps

The closest Celebrate Recovery program from lower Bucks County, PA is in Ewing, NJ. Visit the link above to find Celebrate Recovery locations in your area as well as to learn more about the program.

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”

-2nd Timothy 3: 16-17

She Thinks She’s a Tree!

“Hey buddy! You have to help me. It’s my wife. She thinks she’s a tree!”, said a man who knocked on the door on the Soupy Sales show. “Then why don’t you take her to a psychiatrist?”, Soupy replied.

“Come on dear,” said the frantic man as he pulled a tree past Soupy’s door.

I joke, but there is a serious problem in our country today with substance abuse and other problems, particularly in Bucks County, PA.

Because the church hasn’t been effectively helping people with problems, and out of desperation, people have been turning to secular psychology and psychiatry. Although churches are starting to offer Biblical solutions to problems, it is still ingrained in us that we need “professionals” to handle big problems.

There is a problem with much of modern psychology and you may as well be the woman who thinks she’s a tree who is just dragged away, as chances are you won’t get the help you need.

This is what I found, as did others with mental health clinics associated with the Bucks County health industry. A couple years ago, I lost my job, my dog, my house and had other problems and I psychologically went on a downward spiral, through a virtual black hole. Some of the problems were a result of my own doing. Nonetheless, although the Salvation Army helped me get on the right track, people there palmed me off to Penndel Mental Health, where I was given Paxil, which made me worse. The cognitive behavior therapy gave me a methodology to work things out, but it wasn’t the cure.

I just heard “The Addiction Network” ad come on again, where a bearded guy with glasses and scrubs makes his spiel and Augustly states “addiction is a disease”, inflecting the word “is”.

On pastor and Christian counselor Jay Adam’s website, the notion of drug abuse, and by extension, mental problems being a disease is addressed:

“Mental Illness

Posted on August 22, 2016 by Donn R Arms

Folks let’s get this straight. The mind is not a physical organ. It cannot have a disease, illness, or injury in anything other than a metaphorical sense such as a sick economy or a sick joke.

Typhoid fever — disease
Spring fever — not a disease
Scarlet fever — disease
Bieber fever — not a disease”

For sure, drug “addiction” has physical symptoms. I know from experience that the dope I got from someone in a lab coat has severe withdrawal symptoms. But my anxiety was caused by my mental attitude, precipitated by my habitual ungodly behavior. I got my anxiety, and depression under control and continue healing as I try to submit myself to God and his ways, fighting my fleshly, sinful nature and get my head right. There is some merit to cognitive behavioral therapy, in that what you think results in subsequent behavior and that it is at least concerned with personal responsibility and decision making.

As one of the characters on Monty Python and The Holy Grail said, “it’s only a model.” You have to fill in the blanks in the flowchart in cognitive behavioral therapy.  After evaluating behaviors/outcomes as a result of thinking, you may want to rethink what you did. The flowchart:

 

I fill in “thoughts” with the right stuff, God’s Word, or at least basing my thoughts on scripture.

The 12 Steps, which was started by Alcoholics Anonymous, is the right stuff. It is faith based. More than 90 percent of substance abuse treatment centers used AA principles and more than 30 percent of referrals to AA came from various treatment centers in 1949.

I recently saw the movie The Untouchables again, which depicted the corruption and degradation of the so-called progressive period. By 1949, our society started healing from the social ills, and I use “ill” as a metaphor.

I personally know people who are incessantly off and on in their attempts to stop abusing alcohol and other substances. This happened to a guy during the early years of AA. He even was treated for his problem by Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist Carl Jung. About a year after finishing treatment with Dr. Jung, the man went back to the bottle. The Doc’s prescription was “a spiritual conversion with a religious group” as he was considered a nearly hopeless case. And with God’s help, he overcame!

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

There is hope with God.

Recovery is not instant. In fact, it can take a long time to change bad habits and heal wounds. One bad, sinful problem I’m working on is unforgiveness, harboring resentment against people who grossly wronged me. As the case with any problem, you have to admit you are wrong and allow God to change you. There are people in the homeless and those in need community who, despite concerned, caring people reaching out to them,  continue their bad habits, with is actually besetting sin.

https://www.gotquestions.org/habitual-sin.html

I’ve been trying to help a lung cancer patient who wants to give up and has engaged in irresponsible, destructive behavior. She has, however, made some progress. People who reach out to help people are not responsible for results; just doing the right thing.

The problem with modern psychology/psychiatry is that it tends to treat human behavior like science, the physical world of inanimate objects. This doesn’t work. Contrary to Marxist thought, two different people in the same place and situation don’t always behave the same. This is a materialist view of humans. In fact, I think Marx wrote of “Dialectical Materialism.”

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”  Hebrews 5: 15,16

Serving God and Man

“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, here’s nothin’ that you ain’t tried To fill the emptiness inside
But when you come back down, girl
Still ain’t feelin’ right” -lyrics from Paul Revere & the Raiders Kicks

The song was written back in 1966, but still applies today. People, especially young people, go to great lengths to get their kicks. Drug abuse has become an epidemic. As the song continues “Kicks just keep gettin’ harder to find…And all your kicks ain’t brinin’ you peace of mind…”
As the 12 Steps program points out, problems with alcohol, and by extension other problems with substance abuse is a result of a character flaw, sin. The Bible has something to say about this. “Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” -John 8:34

Indeed, people have become slaves to their “kicks”.

Although socially accepted until recently, smoking is being challenged. Anti-smoking ads have been popping up on the airways. One I particularly like is the one where a father missed his son’s winning layup shot because he had to go outside for a smoke. Many anti-smoking ads are very creative. They are sending the message that smokers are a slave to their habit and it is self destructive.

At community meals for the homeless and needy, people jet out of the meal early to catch a smoke, sometimes even before the meal starts.

No matter what the enslaving habit, people are hurting and in many cases are really ruining their lives. They need help. This is where churches come in. More and more churches are starting programs to help people overcome their destructive behavior.

In my last blog, I discussed how Christians were being oppressed and were being encouraged by the writings in the book of Peter. Before long, Christians took over Rome.

How did this happen? They showed God’s love.

When there was a plague in the 2nd and 3rd centuries, the Pagans, even doctors ran away ran away! The Christians stayed to help the infected people, at their own peril. Many people got well.

http://thefederalist.com/2016/09/20/what-todays-christians-can-learn-from-antiquity-about-living-in-a-pagan-world/

“He answered: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”  -Luke 10:27