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 voluntary slavery of drug abuse.

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. 

A Little Part of It in Everyone

Another human volcano erupted in Levittown, PA. “I wasn’t in my right state of mind,” said a man who was recently sentenced to prison for assault, fleeing the police, recklessly endangering another person, and possession of control substances. “I was high on drugs,” he cried.

http://levittownnow.com/2016/10/18/levittown-man-to-judge-i-wasnt-in-my-right-state-of-mind/

The pressure had built up through a dispute with a friend of a woman he attacked, compounded, no doubt, by drugs.

As I wrote in a previous blog, people don’t suddenly snap as if an alien had just remotely taken control of their minds. Viciously acting out like he did is a result of human character flaws, showing it’s ugly head when people can’t peacefully settle problems with others.

As Neil Young sang in The Needle and The Damage Done “there’s a little part of it in everyone.”

Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist Carl Jung related a story about visiting an insane asylum with an “intelligent layman”, who remarked that the people there were like the rest of us, except that their problems were greatly magnified.

Indeed, we all have problems. It’s a matter of degree. Earlier today, as I was struggling to reset my printer which I haven’t used for awhile so I could scan some documents, I became angry at my friend and yelled at her when she kept asking me dumb questions when I was trying to concentrate. After some snarling on both sides, after awhile we calmed down and made peace. I’ve prayed about my anger/frustration and to have more patience with my friend. I think, however, that having patience with technology is a lost cause for me! But at least you can’t hurt a machine’s feelings when you yell at it!

What causes us to not act right? It’s simply sin! Christians are sinners saved by grace, that is, unmerited favor.

In The Needle and The Damage Done, Neil pleaded with people not to destroy their lives with drugs.

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

By doing drugs, people never get satisfied. They keep wanting more and more, trying to reach that zenith point. “You can stretch right up and touch the sky”, rings a lyric in Mongo Jerry’s song. You can’t really do that even in the summertime when the weather is fine. With drugs, you keep reaching for the sky but, as Neil sang “Every junkie’s just a settin’ sun.” It  just leads to death.

All of us are dead in sins. The only remedy for this is Jesus. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” -John 3:16

Once you accept Jesus into your life, that’s not the end of it! After salvation comes sanctification, putting off the old, sinful ways and transforming into a more Godly person. This is a lifelong maintenance project!

I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Rom 12:1-2).

No matter what you did, Jesus will save you.

A counselor at a drug and alcohol treatment center told the guests who visit their loved ones to set rules, have borders, but to never condemn the ones they come to visit. When the Pharisees dragged a woman caught in adultery out in the street, Jesus told them who is without sin to throw the first stone at the woman. They left. Jesus asked the woman where they went and asked “has no one condemned you?”

“No,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” said Jesus, and added “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

The woman at the well, a prostitute, accepted Jesus. She not only followed Jesus, but went into town and lead others to him.

Likewise, people who used to be weighed down by drugs, alcohol and other problems can point them to the right direction. Jesus is the ultimate way to get clean. In fact, he is the way, the truth and the life.

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

Who’ll Stop The Insane?

“Drug overdose has surged to become the leading cause of accidental death in the United States”, wrote congressman Mike Fitzpatrick in a recent op-ed to LevittownNow.com.

The drug epidemic is not something law enforcement can just “arrest its way out of”, said Bucks Co. Assistant District Attorney Matt Weintraub, adding that we need a plan that “reduces the supply and demand, while helping those in the throes of addiction,” the congressman referenced in his op-ed.

I agree. But how do we go about it?

Lately we’ve been bombarded with ads for drug abuse treatment. There’s one in particular that’s been coming on constantly, where a bearded guy with a stethoscope and scrubs tells us how grave the drug abuse problem is and Augustly states “It is a disease,” and offers services, which, he ads, may be covered by your insurance.

Another ad for drug abuse treatment mentions “it’s not a 12 step program.”

Both of these sources are wrong.

What is addiction and how do we solve it?

“Addiction is a repetitive, pleasure-seeking behavior that is habitual in spite of moral or physical reasons (i.e., harm) that should rationally preclude its practice and that displaces spiritual obligations,” writes Franklin E Payne Jr., MD, Associate Professor of Family Medicine at the Medical College of Georgia. Dr. Payne rejects the conventional wisdom that addictions are strictly medical but are moral and spiritual. Drug and other substance abusers cannot be helped, the professor says, unless the problem is viewed from that perspective.

http://www.bmei.org/jbem/volume7/num4/payne_addiction_as_besetting_sin.php

The root of the problem is sin, not disease.

Although there is a physical dependency, the mental drive for pleasure or comfort far exceeds the physical drive, according to Dr. Payne, who adds that such compulsive behavior should be labeled “besetting sin” rather than as an “addiction.”

Besetting sin is to doggedly continue to  pursue bad, sinful habits, taking things to extremes, becoming enslaved by sin.

“As a dog returns to his own vomit,
So a fool repeats his folly. “

.-Proverbs 26:11

All “addictions” have this common root.

The only way to overcome these problems is through biblical principles.  A businessman whose business was destroyed because of alcohol abuse went to psychiatrist and psychotherapist  Carl Jung for treatment. Shortly after a year long treatment with Dr. Jung,  he returned to his drinking. When he went back for treatment, Dr. Jung told the man that his case was nearly hopeless and the only hope was for a spiritual conversion with a religious group.

The 12 Steps Journey Program, a free, walk in program which is held at two different churches, two different nights in Bucks County, PA, operates on the principle that Dr. Jung recommended to the drunk who returned to his vomit.

The first step in the 12 steps program: “We admitted we were powerless over the effects of our separation from GOD-that our lives had become unmanageable.”

The 12 Steps Journey Program addresses a host of problems that have a common cause: alcohol and drug abuse, anxiety, depression, anger, etc.

http://www.12stepjourney.com/

Today many churches are offering treatment programs to help troubled people overcome besetting sins. This is a step in the right direction to tackle the drug epidemic and other problems that are rooted in sin.

To help drunks overcome their problem, before Alcoholics Anonymous, Dr. Franklin Nathaniel Daniel Buchman, a minister, started a movement called “A First Century Christian Fellowship”, later called “The Oxford Group”.  It’s philosophy to treat the problem:

  • 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

This philosophy applies to other human behavioral problems.

There is help for those who seek it.

“For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted

-Hebrews 4:15.

There is Hope

49 Overdoses of heroin, causing five deaths in lower Bucks County, PA, just since January 1, 2016! The drug epidemic affects everyone, including homeowners and the homeless who are not drug addicts. Many of the druggies join the homeless population, making it harder for the homeless to find shelter by shear numbers and by contributing to stereotypes that result in hobophobia, the irrational fear of all homeless people. In some cases the druggies caused everyone at an encampment to get booted.

Today the drug problem in Bucks County is similar to the alcohol abuse problem when Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) was formed. Our nation realized that prohibition, banning booze for everyone, didn’t work. The gross amount of money waging this war, prohibition, wasted money, so much that it crippled the economy, contributing to the depression. As is the case today, many people became homeless just because of the economy.

Today the war on drugs rages, wasting taxpayer money. We wouldn’t have to wage this war if there wasn’t a market for drugs. As was the case when AA was formed, the problem is individual problems, the root of which is sin.

A forerunner of AA, Dr. Franklin Nathaniel Daniel Buchman, a minister, started a movement called “A First Century Christian Fellowship”, later called “The Oxford Group”.  It’s philosophy to treat alcoholism:

  • 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

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

The Oxford Group advocated principles from the Sermon on The Mount,  https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+5-7&version=NIV 

where Jesus taught people the right way to live. The group boiled down these principles:

  • Absolute-Honesty
  • Absolute-Purity
  • Absolute-Unselfishness
  • Absolute-Love

A business executive tried to resolve his alcohol addiction by going to psychiatrist Carl Jung but it didn’t work. Shortly after a year long treatment with Dr. Jung,  he returned to his drinking. When he went back for treatment, Dr. Jung told the man that his case was nearly hopeless and the only hope was for a spiritual conversion with a religious group.

There is a belief that alcoholics can overcome their addiction. Although AA and The Oxford Group agreed that drunks are powerless over their addiction, AA saw the problem as a disease that cannot be cured. The Oxford Group argued that it’s possible that addicts can have complete victory over their sin.

The methods the Oxford Group advocated can apply to any kind of addiction, or other problems rooted in human character flaws, a result of sin.

Homelessness, although not always the fault of the person who has become homeless, is a struggle. Christian counsel can help the homeless too. We all have problems; it’s just a matter of degree. Carl Jung wrote of an experience at an insane asylum he visited with what he called “an intelligent layman,” who remarked that the inmates had problems like the average person, only they were greatly magnified. Dr. Jung was right about that.

Today in southeastern Pennsylvania, where addictions and other problems run rampant, churches are stepping up to the plate to counsel addicts. At the church luncheon after the funeral for our dear sister Martha, who was a member of the homeless community in lower Bucks County PA, the pastor and a church member told me they were seriously considering starting a program for addicts. After I gave them my two cents, they decided to move forward with the program.

In lower Bucks County, two churches host the 12 Step Journey program, where scripture is heavily used in conjunction with the 12 steps model to help people deal with drug and alcohol addictions and other problems that plague them. People with different problems mesh well together and people have made great progress in having victory over their sin-caused problems.  http://www.12stepjourney.com/ 

Heroin addiction stands out, but there are other problems, and this is just the tip of the iceberg above the underlying cause. Several decades ago, writer E.B. White wrote that New York “is a cancer as yet undetected.” Well, the heroin problem is a manifestation of a social cancer, the underlying cause of which people don’t see, maybe because they don’t want to.

Where there is God, there is hope. Hope for the sinner. It’s not too late. God will lift you out of the pit, as he did King David.

 

We’re Not in Kansas Anymore

We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto! As is the case in the Wizard of Oz, many people’s lives have taken them to the Kafkaesque world of being homeless in Bucks County, PA. The way the authorities act in Bucks County, the homeless can click their heals three times and find a home.

It doesn’t work that way, where normally someone out in the street has to wait months even to get into the temporary shelter and often years to get into a permanent place. Of course, there are exceptions.

Agents of Penndel Mental Health Center are willing to provide the magic shoes, however, but you have to sell your soul to the devil, so to speak. You have to sign up, cooperate with these agents, who have ways to make you cooperate.

Unlike the human homeless, for the homeless (feral) cats there are no strings attached to get into the cat condominium, the gated community across from the homeless shelter in Levittown, PA. Maybe folks from the Penndel Mental Health Center dropped them off in the woods, like they would humans, while they are waiting to go into the shelter.

I’m surprised the cats are not in the shelter now, as they seem to have priority over humans. There’s talk that there is a reward for cats who rat out the locations where humans are camping so they can get into the shelter even faster.

You’re out of the woods your out of the woods you’re in the nuthouse. You’re out of the woods…

Maybe that’s why they are cuddling up to the cats.

On one occasion, an agent from Penndel Mental Health let one of the subjects from the nuthouse loose in the library area, who ran rampant like a mild form of the Frankenstein monster, accosting people as he ran wild. Security from the Levittown library and the nearby municipal building and the police were called, only to find it was a case of the doctor releasing his monster.

I don’t believe people are helped at the health clinic but become worse. It seems like they are become worse after being “medicated” (doped up) there. I heard through the grapevine that some secular mental health facilities are worse than others. Penndel Mental Health is a candidate for the booby prize.

As I’ve said in previous blogs, I’m convinced that faith based places can better help to those who need help than secular institutions.

All people are flawed to some degree. Some just have a higher dose or have a different kind of baggage. Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist Carl Jung wrote about visiting an insane asylum with whom he called “an intelligent layman.” The guy told the doc that the people in the asylum were just like everyday people with problems, only that their problems were greatly magnified.

On their journey along the yellow brick road, Dorothy and her homeless friends meet the good witch and the bad witch. One was a Bucks County Ranger who was nice and had their interests at heart. He told them what they needed to hear — tough love — and encouraged them. The other was harsh. Like the bad which, who sicked flying monkeys on Dorothy, he threatened to bulldoze the homeless camps if they did not cooperate. Sounds like an episode in Star Wars.

Don’t pay any attention to the man behind the curtain. When Toto pulls the curtain open, what we thought was our hope, was only a man hustling a solution to our problem, a snake oil salesman whose been running around the woods and visiting the Levittown Library. Remember, “Oz gave nothing to the tin man; that he didn’t, didn’t already have…”

“I am the great Oz!” Really?

You’re just a drug pusher masquerading as a mental health professional.