Last evening around 8 pm, I listened to a voicemail from Violet Smith. She informed me that Russell-her only son-had passed away earlier in the day. My heart was cracked open as I realized that a man I have only known for a couple of years will no longer call, or accept my calls; will no longer be able to ride the bike I fixed up for him; will no longer have to struggle with the mental and physical problems that have shaped his life for so long. Russell is really home. He is in paradise with his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Russell and I met back in 2008. I was volunteering as a mentor to residents of Helping Up Mission in downtown Baltimore. Helping Up Mission has a year-long, intense spiritual recovery program that graduates over 100 men every year. Most of these men come from the streets of Baltimore where drugs and alcohol have relegated them to crackhouses, dumpsters, and cardboard boxes. For many of them, this is their best, last hope.
Russell and I met at a luncheon where mentors have a chance to meet men from HUM that are looking for a mentor. I didn’t meet Russell until the very end when God intervened and got us to talking. After sharing parts of our stories with each other, Russell asked me if I would be his mentor. What was I going to do? How about the next right thing and leave the results to God.
Since I was un-employed at the time, and had flexibility to be there when I wanted, I found out Russ’s schedule and agreed to meet him the following week. We ended up meeting on Wednesday’s at 10 am when he was in Bible Class. It allowed me the opportunity to refresh my Bible knowledge under a great Bible teacher and archaeologist, Gary Byers, who is the Spiritual Director of HUM. It also allowed me to interact with the other residents in the same phase as Russell. Once they heard enough of my story, I was accepted very readily!
After class, Russell and I would sit and talk in the lounge area, or go for a walk to the local store and get a drink (non-alcoholic!), and whatever else he needed to make his life as normal as possible, and then go back to the Mission for lunch. Sometimes, we would go for a walk and buy lunch in the area. His favorite food was Burger King with all the trimmings. After lunch we would share with each other what was going on in our lives and I would encourage him to try and do the next right thing, based upon our understanding of addiction, the 12 recovery steps, and the Word of God.
I have many memories of our times together. When I finally went back to work, we could no longer get together during the day, so I would leave work and try to meet him for dinner at HUM. We would then share with each other, and then walk to an AA meeting in the area.
Living in an environment with a hundred other men who were more familiar with degredation and despair than hope and healing played a large part in Russell’s decision to leave in February of 2009. He couldn’t seem to stop taking inventory of the other men and concentrate on working on himself.
To be fair to Russell, he loved the Lord and His Word. I remember, like it was yesterday, how excited he was about the opportunity to go to Bible College. He wanted to give back, and share the Word with others. God had other plans. His ways are not our ways.
Russell had worked as a steelworker and had several accidents that basically tore his shoulders apart. He couldn’t lift his arms above the level of his face. All the years of hard living and drug abuse had taken it’s toll. He was being treated for mental, physical, and emotional problems that interfered with his spiritual growth and maturity. I was as pro-active as I possibly could be in helping Russell to get the healthcare he needed. Taking him to the right staff members to arrange the outside care he needed, going with him to the different clinics, encouraging him to learn to stick up for himself.
Russell finally snapped. I’m not too sure I wouldn’t have if I was Russell. Lost his temper, said things he shouldn’t have, and left 2 months before graduation. He ended up moving in with his mom, Violet, and was finally approved for Social Security. After the split with HUM, all he did was sit around the house and watch TV and movies on a portable DVD player I had bought him for Christmas. That’s what he wanted. Several times I visited him in Essex and got him out of the house for awhile. We went to a music store and bought some cables so he could hook up his electric guitar to a small amp and practice his music. He wanted to play Christian music for others. He felt that God had a music ministry for him.
Have you ever heard of H.A.L.T.? It is an acronym for hungry, angry, lonely, and tired. Those are the times that substance abusers are particularly prone to want to pick up their drug of choice. Russell was angry, lonely, and tired. He started drinking again last fall. Not constantly, but enough for Violet to find out and read him the riot act.
Last year, before Christmas, I invited Russell out here in the country to spend the night. Peace and quiet and Mom’s great cooking. The picture you see of Russell was taken then. He had a Harley_Davidson hat on that I gave him, and a grin from ear to ear.
As most of you have probably realized by now, writing all this down is helping me to remember Russell, and in the process, to work out some of my angst about his passing. Russell was tired of not being able to breathe, did not want a tracheotomy, and basically gave them permission to let him die.
Violet and I talked for about 30 minutes last night. Russell did not want any kind of service because he knew his mom, being un-employed, with no life insurance, couldn’t afford it. He will be autopsied to try and determine why they couldn’t treat the infection, any organs that are useable will be harvested, and then he will be cremated. Before I got off the phone, I prayed with Violet. She needs all our prayers.
I am enclosing Violet’s address in case you would like to send her a card or flowers or a gift to help her out financially.
Violet Smith, 700 Pine Branch Place, Apt D, Essex, MD 21221
P.S. It’s okay with Violet if I arrange a memorial service of some kind for Russell. Maybe this is it. We’ll see. I’ll let you know if anything else is planned.
Russell Smith, you are my friend. I will miss you. I’m glad you aren’t suffering any longer. I’ll stay in touch with your Mom. Tell Jesus Hi! for me. Talk to you soon.
Ever see the bumper sticker that says, “God is my co-pilot”? I used to see it a lot more than I do now. But, the reason I bring this up is because for the last several months I have really been in a quandary as to my role versus God’s in the way my choices have borne fruit. Still don’t have it all figured out. I think that’s where the grace of God intersects.
“Religion in its humility restores man to his only dignity, the courage to live by grace.”
Grace, in the Person and work of Jesus the Christ, says that He does for us what we can’t do for ourselves. If God is my co-pilot, then I’m at the controls and I only ask His help when the situation merits. The problem with that line of reasoning is it makes me the expert at figuring out which situation, and/or at which point in the situation, I ask for the kind and wise intervention of a Power greater than myself. In other words, when the s–t hits the proverbial fan, it is probably, and most likely, MY best thinking that got me in the mess I’m in.
Now, I am not abdicating personal responsibility. I AM saying that if I truly believe, and act on, the premise that there is a God who is all-powerful, all-knowing, and infinitely loving, then it behooves all of US to hand the controls to Him.
In the story of the Fall, the serpent asserts the proposition that if Eve and Adam eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil they will become all-knowing, like gods. That is the dilemna I find myself in through most of life. Not knowing. Wanting to know. Not in control. Wanting to be in control. Sound like anyone you know? Yeah. Me, too.
In recovery, one of the maxims that we TRY to live our lives by is to “do the next right thing,” Easier said than done. As a very wise young man said to our fellowship recently, “even if I don’t always do the next right thing, I can at least do the next thing right.” Thanks, Matt.
That’s what I’m going to do right now.
“God, from this moment to my last, I want YOU to take the wheel of my life. I trust You, and I need You, and I love You. Since You already know what the future holds, it only makes sense to this alcoholic to let you steer this vehicle called Harvey’s life. I know You know how to get my attention when I come to the conclusion that I know better than You. So, here we go. All fueled up, buckled up, and looking up!”
Your most unworthy servant,
p.s. Enjoy the song. I love it!
Today didn’t start off very good for either of these two pretty girls. First, Obsidian decides to ignore the buzzing in her ear and the shock on her neck and go for a walk down Baptist Road. Then, Rhonda leaves her eggs half eaten on the counter to run down the road to find Obsidian lying in a neighbors’ flower bed. The sad part of this is that I had just replaced the battery in her collar the night before. I should have taken Obsidian outside to re-train her, but I didn’t.
Without going into a lot of detail, suffice it to say that around 10 am this morning a classy lady left this earth and left behind another classy lady who will miss her and mourn her for a long time. As will I and many others.
Thank God last weekend was so beautiful! Rhonda and I were able to take Obsidian up to Catoctin National Forest outside Emmittsburg and hike up and down a mountain for over an hour. With no one else around and Obsidian bounding over logs belying the fact that in dog years she is almost 100, we were able to enjoy then, and now, even more so, those special moments with a special lady.
The Bible is silent on the subject of pets in Heaven. So, what I’m going to say is my own opinion based on what it does say. There will be animals in Heaven. The lion and the lamb deal, remember? Heaven is perfect, right? So, who is to say you can’t have a pet in Heaven, and that it won’t be the now “perfect” pet you had on earth? We know God has a special place in His heart for animals. Look at all the different ones He has created. You think He made them just for us? I don’t think so! He made them because He loves them and there is a place for them in His Kingdom in Heaven as well as on earth.
Alright! I’m done pontificatin’ and guessin’ and just plain hoping that some day I will be able to play with Obsidian and Rhonda again as we explore whatever mountain and whatever galaxy we want to cause we want to and we can.
Today was one of those days that you know will eventually come, but you don’t think it will be today, or in this particular way. The vet and his assistant assured us many times that Obsidian did not seem to be in much pain, probably because of the shock. To the very end, Obsidian was a model of dignity, bravery, and class.
Just like her mom. Rhonda
Wow! What a privilege to be able to give your daughter away in marriage to a special man who loves her with all his heart. Two Saturdays ago-the 21st of February-Meaghan Marie Miller became Meaghan Marie Lambert. She and John Lambert of Decatur, Alabama became husband and wife.
John and Meaghan have dated each other exclusively since they met 7 years ago. That in itself is remarkable with the number of disposable relationships today.
Speaking of relationships, the very fact that Meaghan called a month ago and asked me to walk her down the aisle is a small miracle. I had not seen Meaghan in over five years. The last time I saw her was after I had been out of prison for less than a year. She traveled to Maryland from Alabama where she lives, and where I lived for eighteen years. For five years, from 1998 to 2003, I was in prison. Those were the years that Meaghan needed me the most. She was thirteen when I went to prison and eighteen when I got out. I have never blamed her for holding that against me. My totally selfish, out-of-control behavior robbed her of a dad and the time, energy, love, support, and money she needed to grow up feeling safe and secure in her daddy’s love. We communicated by phone and letter over those years, but that doesn’t replace the time and touch of being there.
Needless to say, I was very proud, and very grateful, to be able to spend some time with her before the wedding and re-establish a relationship with this beautiful young woman-my daughter, Meag.
p.s. I’m going to be a Pop-Pop in August. Who da’ thunk it?
A very grateful man,
Today we (as in everyone who calls New Creations home) hit the big time. Below the fold on the front page of the Carroll County times and first on Yahoo! Local for the surrounding zip codes. WOOHOO!
Now the idea of being and doing church takes on a whole new level of excitement and responsibility. The excitement stems from the fact that a little over six years ago, the church consisted of a half dozen families meeting in a barn heated by kerosene heaters. Today, three hundred people on an average Sunday morning meet at Sandymount Elementary. In a couple of weeks, the Lord willing, really, we will be able to celebrate moving into our own permanent location for the foreseeable future.
There has been many moves over the last six years. With every move there was the realization that it wouldn’t be the last. Lots of work has been done for years by the staff and volunteers, every Sunday, to set up and tear down. Now, finally, we can have a place to call HOME. That is why the excitement is palpable and growing.
With the move comes the responsibility of being the kind of church that God wants to use to encourage His people, strengthen the Body of Christ, and bring the life changing message of redemption to a world desperate for hope and hungering for answers that make a difference in their daily lives.
At New Creations Fellowship, we have one simple goal, “to lead people to life changing faith in Jesus Christ.” We believe, from our own experiences in faith, that Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith. Christ-centered. Bible-believing. People focused. That is a goal that is worth living for. Jesus thought it was a goal worth dying for.
The adventure of faith continues. One person at a time. One day at a time.
Come join the fold!
link to Carroll County Times article: www.carrollcountytimes.com/articles/2009/02/17/news/local_news/newsstory5.txt
My Mom, Phyllis Miller, asked me to write a letter for her that she could send to her friends. She is trying to multiply a hundred dollar gift into as much money as possible to help a poor family from Haiti. Since I haven’t written for almost two months, I am taking this opportunity to spread the message. Please read the letter. And, then do something. Send money. Pray. Pass the story on. Just do the next right thing.
February 9, 2009
” Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand.” Thomas Carlyle
Eight days ago I was blessed with a challenge, or challenged with a blessing? My pastor, Reid Robinette, gave me, along with nine others from New Creations Fellowship Church, a hundred dollar bill to use to bless someone else. The object is to get us to see that giving is an opportunity, not an obligation. And, there is strength in numbers.
Reid had inspired us with the story of Emily Diefendorf, a high school student he knew from New York, and her success in providing shoes to children in Zambia. Seems Emily had gone on a missions trip to Africa and was saddened by the fact that so many of the children didn’t have any shoes. She gave her shoes away while she was there and upon returning to the States asked for donations of used shoes to send back to the kids in Africa. She gave because there was an opportunity, not an obligation.
This brings me to the reason for my writing you. After praying, with eyes wide open, for God to reveal to me how I could multiply this $100, I received a phone call from a dear friend. She told me the story she had read in the Baltimore Sun about a 13yr old boy from Haiti that had an operation to remove a grapefruit sized tumor underneath his right arm. The boys name is Osly St. Preux. He and his mother, Natalie Pierre, are here because Dr Mojtaba Gashti and a medical team from Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore made the decision to do what “lies clearly at hand.”
Osly and his mom, who has seven other children besides Osly, are living with Dr Gashti and his family until they return to Haiti. They will be returning to one of the poorest countries in the world. I want to do what I can to make their life a little better with the little I have. I am asking you to join me in this opportunity to give. God allowed Dr Gashti to meet Osly and help save his life. I am asking you to help me help Osly, his mom, Natalie, and his seven siblings to have a little better life upon their return.
I have asked Rhonda Danner and Harvey Miller to help me in this endeavor. You can send any donations to me and I will make sure that the money makes it to Osly.
By the way, Dr Gashti had to wire some money at the last moment because neither Osly or His mom, Natalie, owned a pair of shoes.
My address: Phyllis Miller
3548 Lawndale Rd E
Reisterstown, MD 21136
link to story in the Baltimore Sun http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/local/bal-md.osly01feb01,0,6483396.story?page=1
This time of year is my favorite for many reasons. I have so many memories of Thanksgiving and Christmas with family and friends. Growing up as a child in the 60’s and travelling to West Virginia and Kentucky, sometimes in snow and ice on two-lane roads before the advent of interstates. Dim pictures in my mind of “Mom” Johnson, my great-grandmother on Dad’s side, who lived in Fairmont, W. Va., in a house still heated by coal and who had a wringer washer standing in the kitchen. The Thanksgiving feasts in Paintsville, Ky with my Mom’s side of the family. Swimming in the Atlantic Ocean on Christmas day with my cousins while visiting relatives in West Palm Beach, Fla. Four years spent in the Army in Germany and the holidays spent apart from family and friends. First Christmases in Alabama with Matthew and Meaghan. The great times and sumptious food at the Killough’s in Huntsville, Al, as they graciously included me in their extended-and still extending-family!
I am thankful that I am HIS and He is mine. God, that is. That is why He made me. That is why He made all of us. To know Him and enjoy Him. Forever. And He will do whatever it takes to get our attention. Think about it. The Creator of everything. The mind boggling expanse of the cosmos. The equally staggering universe of the atom. The 125 million “rods and cones” in the human eye that receive light and interpret shades and color and depth. The human brain that makes our most advanced machines look like Legos. This awesome, holy, creator wanted us to know Him so much that He “made himself nothing”. He came to earth so that we could identify with Him and He could identify with us. God the Father entrusted the conception, pregnancy, birth, and care of our Savior to a young Jewish girl and her carpenter husband. There on the breast of Mary lay God, willing to be born as a helpless baby with no power to sustain his own physical life.
He came to show us that the way up is down. That the way down leads to a cross. That the cross means death. Death to self and sin and the snares the “god of this age” has used to blind the minds and harden the hearts of un-believers and believers alike. The cross is the dividing line for all of history. World history and personal history. Without death there can be no resurrection, no life eternal. Without the cross, we would not be able to call Him Friend and Brother as well as Saviour and Lord.
Jesus, “the one who saves”, was born to die. Thank you, Jesus! Thank you for revealing God to us. Thank you for wanting to have a relationship with us. The Creator loves the creature. He proved it at a point in time over two thousand years ago, and He proves it every day in the lives of those who know Him as Saviour and Lord. He came, was born, lived and died, that we might die, be born again, and live forever with Him. The way up is down! Thank You, Jesus, for proclaiming the Way, showing the Way, and being the WAY.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JESUS!
As I close this post, allow me to share with you some of my favorite passages of scripture. The more I read and study and observe God at work around me and in me, the more I see Him at work in every detail, every situation, and every person’s life. In Acts 17:28, the apostle Paul said that “He is not far from any one of us. That we live and move and have our lives in Him.” Isaak Walton said that “God has two dwellings: one in Heaven, and the other in a meek and thankful heart.” God could choose to live anywhere, and He did, our hearts! David said in Psalm 34:8, “O taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.” Just as God has prepared a home for us, we prepare a home for Him. Within the Holy of Holies, at the very center of who and what we are, are our hearts. This is where the rule of God, the Kindom of God truly lies. As He reigns and rules within to “will and to act according to His good purposes”, we become “conformed to the image of His son, that we might be the firstborn among many brothers.” It is then that we can do as Francis of Assissi said to do, “preach the Gospel every day, if neccessary, use words.”
As we celebrate the birth of Jesus, may we be very, very aware that He is coming to this world one more time in the flesh. Only this time it won’t be as a suffering servant., but as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The Bible says he who wins souls is wise. Let us remember that when we celebrate with our unsaved friends and family members this year. Thanks to all of you for helping to make this time of year so special.
I wrote this originally in December of 2001 as a guest of the Bureau of Prisons. That prison is in my past. Thankfully, I can say that this is my third Christmas that I can celebrate sober. One more prison I can look back on. But, there is an area of my life that feels like I have been given a life sentence with no possibility of parole. ME! With all of my hurts, habits and hang-ups. Those things that keep me bound in the past and fearful of the future. Character defects. When I had been in prison a while I started to work on figuring out the reason(s) I was there. Not just the crimes I had committed, but the reasons why. My motives for doing the wrong thing. I came up with this. My character sucked! Character does count, and choices do have consequences. Sometimes my character still lacks a whole lot, but character always counts, and choices always have consequences.
Thank God for Jesus! Thank you, Jesus, that you came to set the prisoners free. I am one of those prisoners. One prison at a time. One prisoner at a time. One day at a time!
Merry Christmas! Enjoy my favorite Christmas song, O Holy Night.
To those of you who know me, and my heart, you know I was not an Obama supporter. That being said, here is why I want to congratulate my next President.
He ran the smartest campaign in my lifetime. I did not say I agreed with the way he ran the campaign- I said it was a smart campaign. He stayed on point. Promising change. And after promising to accept matching public funds, he broke his word and raised upwards of three quarters of a billion dollars from millons of supporters. Smart, politically expedient, and a broken promise.
One more reason I want to congratulate Mr Obama is that he finally broke the glass ceiling on race or color being a disqualifier for the highest office in the land. I am so proud to live in a country where the stigma of race inequality no longer has any firm ground on which to base its claim. More white people voted for Obama than blacks. They had to for him to win. The dream that Martin Luther King, Jr. so eloquently spoke some forty-odd years ago has been realized in this election. No longer can any person of any color say that they don’t have the opportunity to achieve their dreams in this great country.
I did not vote for President-elect Obama, mostly because of my disagreements with him on issues of public policy. His lack of support for the sanctity of life, and his support of same-sex marriage do not jive with a biblical view of the world as seen through the eyes of God. The Bible is very clear on those issues, and as a follower of Christ, for me to say that economics or “change” or political persuasion trumps the Bible, makes me a Pharisee, if not a hypocrite. I believe, and the Bible teaches, that God honors and blesses obedience to Him and His Word. Our country doesn’t need another tax cut or government program, it needs to repent. To repent of living as we want without regard for what God wants.
I will pray for President-elect Obama, and by doing so I will be obeying the Biblical command to:
“Pray for rulers and for all who have authority so that we can have quiet and peaceful lives full of worship and respect for God. This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to know the truth.” I Tim. 2:2-4
My hope is not in Republicans or Democrats or the inherent goodness of man. It is in the Person and work of Jesus Christ. He ran for no political office, refused the trappings of power, and willingly sacrificed himself to bring about the only change that matters-a new and good heart.
So, take heart-God’s heart-and be a part of changing this country and world for the better. I am glad that the elections are over. Now we can get on with the business of living one day at a time in the grace and goodness of a Heavenly Father that changes water to wine and sinners to saints.
Remember, the one constant in life is change. Only God does not change. Mal. 3:6
Sitting on the edge of a 200 foot dropoff while clinging to a cross made of seasoned and weathered aspen makes one glad that there is a God who sees and cares. He sees me perched on a rock 10,000 feet high in the Collegiate range of the Rockies, and He sees me sitting in front of the 20-inch widescreen monitor writing this post to my friends and family around the world. In fact, He sees my friends and family at the same time. He also knows, and sees, what none of us can see about each other-our hearts. That’s why I’m writing tonight. My heart is sad that people who call themselves followers of Christ and believers in His Word are seemingly immune to the pain we all cause when we choose to ignore the plight of the weak and helpless among us for the sake of comfort and convenience and “change.”
Since 1973, we have knowingly allowed a secular humanistic worldview to take root and thrive in our homes, our courts, our businesses, and our churches. The result of that is a stunning disregard for the truth of Holy Writ and the incubation, birth, and maturing of evil in our midst. We, the church, look like, sound like, act like, dress like, and vote like truth is a commodity to be dispensed as needed, which is rare, and wanted, even less. We spend our money on cars and homes and “toys’ we don’t need and ignore the fact that in this country, this year, another 1.3 million babies will be sacrificed on the altar of “choice.”
1% of all abortions occur because of rape or incest; 6% of abortions occur because of potential health problems regarding either the mother or child, and 93% of all abortions occur for social reasons (i.e. the child is unwanted or inconvenient).
Women identifying themselves as Protestants obtain 37.4% of all abortions in the U.S.; Catholic women account for 31.3%, Jewish women account for 1.3%, and women with no religious affiliation obtain 23.7% of all abortions. 18% of all abortions are performed on women who identify themselves as “Born-again/Evangelical”.
Women with family incomes less than $15,000 obtain 28.7% of all abortions; Women with family incomes between $15,000 and $29,999 obtain 19.5%; Women with family incomes between $30,000 and $59,999 obtain 38.0%; Women with family incomes over $60,000 obtain 13.8%.
These statistics are courtesy of The Alan Guttmacher Institute and Planned Parenthood’s Family Planning Perspectives.
Here’s my point. If 93 percent of abortions do not fall under the heading of rape, incest, or life of the mother or child, then we are killing over 1.2 million babies a year. How, in God’s name, can we allow that to continue and still believe in our hearts and repeat with our lips that we are trying to stop the spread of violence in any other arena of our lives? Jesus said to bring the children to him. He said He came that we might have life. Life. Physical life as well as spiritual life.
Listen to my heart and watch my lips. I am FULLY aware of the women in my life and yours that have had abortions, for whatever reasons. My response is the same as Jesus to the woman caught in adultery. “Where, o woman, are your accusers?” I will not be the first to throw a stone for the fear of an avalanche falling on my own head. My sins are too numerous and varied to mention, at least here. Many of the best volunteers in our Crisis Pregnancy centers are women who have had abortions and know the pain that follows. Who better to talk to an alcoholic than another alcoholic? That’s me.
To me, the whole issue comes down to worldview. I can either live my life and make my decisions based upon what God says in His Word, or I can base my reading of his word based upon the way I live my life and make my decisions. [I purposefully placed no emphasis on his word because of the lack of importance.] We can’t have it both ways.
Since I started voting back in 1980, I have been a staunch supporter of the party that says Roe vs. Wade should be overturned. A law that was passed to make abortions legal and safe so that women would not die at the hands of back alley abortionists, has turned into a state-sponsored factory to eliminate “unwanted or inconvenient” pregnancies. Our tax dollars pay for those abortions. I will NEVER vote for ANY candidate of ANY party who supports Roe vs. Wade.
Mother Teresa say it well: “But I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child – a direct killing of the innocent child – murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another? How do we persuade a woman not to have an abortion? As always, we must persuade her with love, and we remind ourselves that love means to be willing to give until it hurts. Jesus gave even his life to love us. So the mother who is thinking of abortion, should be helped to love – that is, to give until it hurts her plans, or her free time, to respect the life of her child. The father of that child, whoever he is, must also give until it hurts. By abortion, the mother does not learn to love, but kills even her own child to solve her problems. And by abortion, the father is told that he does not have to take any responsibility at all for the child he has brought into the world. That father is likely to put other women into the same trouble. So abortion just leads to more abortion. Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching the people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. That is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion. ”
I will end with this. And with this, if I haven’t already, some of you will disagree with me strongly and ask me to take you off my list. I have no doubt of that. This blog is called the heart is central. I believe that with all my heart. And, for too many years, I cared too little for my own heart, and as a consequence, yours as well. That time is here no longer. I have learned in the rooms of AA “to thine own self be true.” Tonight that is what I’m doing.
This final quote is from a man that I admire as much as any man on this earth. Partly, because we have something in common that most of us don’t. He spent time in prison. While there he made a promise to do what he could to help those prisoners once he was released. He kept his word. Today Prison Fellowship is in 112 countries around the world. Chuck Colson had this to say, and I agree:
I hope you will read my new book, The Faith, because in it you will learn what Christians believe, why we believe it, and why it matters. We have defended, as you will see in the book, the sanctity of life at every stage through the centuries, including leading all the great human-rights campaigns. It may sound harsh, but in the book I say, “Christians who are pro-choice are denying the Gospel and have to question whether they have not separated themselves from the company of Christian discipleship.”
Jesus, who died that we might live, sees us now, and on Nov. 4, and the day after. As my Mom says, “may God give us what we need, not what we deserve.”
From my heart to yours,
I was originally going to write this post on the 5th or 6th after returning from Colorado and Wild at Heart Boot Camp. Obviously, that plan was abandoned. Not that I didn’t want to write, or that I didn’t have something to say, but because life got in the way. Maybe a better way to phrase that is to say that living got in the way of life. Know what I mean? All the demands of time and energy and emotion and… Before I know it, the things that I love doing, that enlarge my heart, that make me feel the pleasure of God, have been pushed aside for the tasks that it seems will never end. With that said, here I am, having proccessed what happened in Colorado a week and a half ago, ready to write.
My last morning there I got up about 6 to watch another beautiful sunrise. As I sat inside looking out at the valley below and the mountains beyond, I penned these thoughts in my journal.
Oct 5, 2008. 7:05am. Frontier Ranch, Colorado.
“Outside, the clouds are playing chords of silent music, building and diminishing, allowing the light of the rising sun to slowly make it’s way through. The sky here is like a canvas on which a playful child is allowed to build a sky with unlimited resources at his disposal. God is extravagantly wasteful.”
After I wrote these words I had to take a moment to think and wonder why I had put it that way. The realization started to sink in that I was coming to fully believe that statement. His love and affection toward me, towards all of us, IS extravagant and wasteful. He has so much love that we can’t measure it or contain it. There is a limitless supply for us, and towards us. To a world where we ration our approval, dole out “atta-boys”, and make sure we don’t go overboard with unconditional love, the “extravagantly wasteful” love of God is almost unbelievable, let alone experienced.
I want you to believe with me, alongside me, that God is offering us so much more than we are experiencing. Maybe, when we are pierced by beauty, we are sensing what it might have been like before the Fall. Our hearts know we are made for so much more. C.S. Lewis says it like this, “If I discover within myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” So, if this is true, and I believe it is, then how do I experience this love, this immortal meaning that I have been searching for all my life? Maybe, by believing. Believing that when Jesus said that He came to give me life, He meant the life that He lived on this earth. Open, honest, no agenda other than the one set forth from eternity past. To seek and to save that which was lost. I am lost without a snowball’s chance in hell without the redeeming, restoring, lavish love of Jesus.
Lest anyone think I am preaching a gospel of grace without truth, let me set your mind at ease. I am a recovering alcoholic, a grateful recovering alcoholic that knows what it is like to not be able to look in the mirror without flinching. I remember the pain of not being honest with myself, or you, or God. Tomorrow night, at my home group in Finksburg, I will celebrate 2 years of sobriety. 730 twenty-four days without a drink. When I came into the rooms of AA, they told me it didn’t have to be like this. That it was not a stop drinking program, it was a start living program. That’s what I was looking for. Life. What Jesus came to give me, you, our neighbors, and our enemies. Life. Growing up in the church that had it’s lists, depending on the religious spirit of the day to keep us in line, I never heard, or believed, that the offer was life. Today, my theology is colored by a belief in a God that says this isn’t a stop sinning program, it’s a start living program! Can I get an AMEN, anybody?
I am an unfinished man. It is not up to me how I will look when God is done with me. That is God’s job. It is my job and my pleasure to seek life. His life.
I want to express my affection and gratitude to you lovely-hearts that made it possible for me to go to Wild at Heart, and for those of you who prayed me through it. I can’t wait to show you what I felt in my heart in the transparent and joy-filled future we call Heaven.
From my heart to yours,