About Me

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Dodson, Louisiana, United States
For many years I struggled with a lifestyle addicted to drugs and alcohol but in 1997 was captured by the Grace of God.....now I can say I am a Christian,Husband,Father. Author of Rehab is not for the Soul " A Journey Out of Addiction"and Chief Operating Officer with the ministry of Louisiana Teen Challenge.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Intro to "Rehab Is Not For The Soul" A Journey Out Of Addiction


I was on a mission trip to Russia fifteen years after I gave up drinking alcohol. I was there helping with a Leadership Training Institute for Global Teen Challenge. The last day of school, we had a special communion service. In Russia it is customary to use real wine, unlike in America, where we often use grape juice. The communion cup came my way; I drank it and immediately knew it was alcohol.
I felt the warm feeling in my chest, which I had once longed for as an alcoholic. Because I was a guest, my hosts brought me the wine that remained after everyone else was served. Not wanting to offend them, I drank it. The warm feeling got even warmer.
There are many people who are classified alcoholics and live their life sober, confessing that they will always be alcoholics. That trip to Russia confirmed what I have believed for fifteen years: that I am no longer an alcoholic. I am a new creation. There are many clinically diagnosed alcoholics whom the communion in Russia would have sent back to drinking. Were I not a new creation, I would have been in a bar in Moscow that night.
But that day in Russia, God showed me —as He has many times before—that I am free.         

To restore formally to former capacity, standing, rank, rights, or privileges…

This is the definition of rehabilitation (Dictionary.com). It means to restore someone to what they once were. For anyone who is struggling with addiction, rehabilitation is the worst thing that could happen. He or she does not need to go back to a former state, rank, or privileges. A twenty-eight-year-old who needs help does not need to return to age twelve just to make the same decisions again. Something new needs to happen. That person needs to die and another one needs to take its place.
And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances and do them. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God. (Ezekiel 11:19–20)

Rehab is for someone recovering from a stroke or knee injury, and trying to get his or her physical body back to its former state. Addicts around the world need a spiritual heart transplant. They need the heart that has been battered and made hard by the world replaced with a new heart that is soft and teachable. They need a heart that will follow after God.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Lie: “My Name Is Gary, and I Am an Alcoholic.”

Lie: “My Name Is Gary, and I Am an Alcoholic.”

At the beginning of the book I shared with you an experience in my first rehab, a motivation for writing this book. When I completed rehab, I wanted to succeed by applying the principles I had been taught. One of the requirements to be successful was I needed to make ninety AA meetings in ninety days.
When I first heard this, I was like, “That’s pretty cool—sounds like a neat goal to reach.” There were problems, though. I didn’t have transportation, and I had to rely on my parents to take me to these meetings, which became a burden on all of us. They have given me a goal, and in my mind, if I did not reach the goal, I was guaranteed to fail.
The meetings I attended were very depressing. At these meetings, we would gather around and smoke cigarettes. Sometimes a guest speaker would share war stories about drinking. The guest was always an alcoholic telling us how they had not had anything to drink that day. It seemed to me that I was listening to someone that was not free. I would come away from hearing the guest speaker with the feeling they were one bad decision away from being a full-blown drunk again. I remember feeling that there had to be something more.
Another of my post-rehab, assigned goals was to get a sponsor, someone to talk to whenever I felt like I had the urge to drink. If I could do that, and at the same time continue to work the Twelve Steps, I would have a chance of remaining sober. Something just did not seem right. This was a burden I felt I couldn’t bear—the meetings, working the steps, the sponsor.
The meetings I needed were to attend church and celebrate my freedom with Christ with other believers. The steps I needed to work were reading God’s word on how to live everyday life. My sponsor needed to be Jesus Christ, who knows me better than anybody, and who will always be there when I need him. He will never fail me! As well-meaning as a sponsor may be in a program like AA, they are human and it is impossible for them to fill your needs, meet your expectations, and have all the right words to say when you are backed against a wall by an acute desire to use. Jesus always knows what to say through His word, and will take you to freedom—a place where you will not need a drink so much that you would have to call somebody.
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

This is our promise as a believer the old is gone; the new has come!
“My name is Gary, and I am an alcoholic and a drug addict.” That is how we were told to introduce ourselves at a meeting. The bible tells us there is power in our words…
Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires. So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. (James 3:4–5)

This was definitely not what I would call speaking life over myself. I was telling myself I was an alcoholic and a drug addict, and would always be one. I was telling myself that my only salvation would be the meetings, my sponsor, and the steps. The word of God tells us that in Christ we have accepted by faith that Christ died for our sins; that we are no longer an alcoholic or a drug addict, but instead are new creations in Christ. My response now is, “My name is Gary, and I was once an alcoholic and a drug addict—a sinner, but now I am free. That man is dead and the new Gary will never have to fall back into that lifestyle again.”

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Rehab Is Not For The Soul " A Journey Out Of Addiction"

“Any attempt to ‘rehabilitate’ someone without the saving power of God is only a temporary fix.”

In Rehab Is Not for the Soul: A Journey Out of Addiction, Gary Bentley makes a poignant and highly personal case that recovery from drug and alcohol addiction is possible only through spiritual surrender to God.
            Gary Bentley was an alcoholic at age 16 and was jailed many times over the next 18 years for fraud and drug-related crimes. He saw his work and home life fall apart as a result of his addictions, and he tried secular rehab programs in always-futile attempts to “come to his senses,” as the prodigal son did in Luke 15:17.
            Yet as he shows, “rehab” only means to restore oneself to an earlier condition—and what the addict needs is a spiritual heart transplant.
            If you or someone you love is suffering from addiction, Gary reaches out to you with his example of success. Thanks to a spiritual awakening and the yearlong, free recovery program offered by the worldwide Christian program, Teen Challenge, he shows how biblical principles, wise family support, and faith can create total transformation.

Gary Bentley came into the Teen Challenge program in 1997 after 18 years of substance abuse and four secular rehabilitation centers. After losing everything because of his addictions, he was homeless on the streets of New Orleans.
Today he is a husband, father of one, and grandfather of two. Gary serves as the COO of Louisiana Teen Challenge and also helps train leaders for Teen Challenge in Russia.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

You are fearfully and wonderfully made

You are fearfully and wonderfully made
Psalm 139: 14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.
We all have a past. Our past can sometimes haunt us if we allow it and that is not what God wants for us, to feel condemned for some bad choices that we made prior to being redeemed.
The bible tells us in Romans 8: 1
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus
Christ has forgiven us and that is something that we have to believe with all of our heart or we will not be able to forgive ourselves. There is no amount of forgiveness from friends or family for wrongs that we may have done that can lift the weight that Christ’s forgiveness of everything we have ever done can do. Once that is done we will be able to forgive ourselves.
Ephesians 6: 6 not by way of eyeservice, as men- pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart
It is not the forgiveness of men that will help us love and accept who we are in Christ but only the love of God.
God created us a unique expression of Him and that came with a free will. As we grew up we exercised our free will which God allows us to do but that does not change the unique, one of a kind person that God created. This is why Christ came and sacrificed His life. God knew we were going to make some bad decisions and wanted a way to redeem us so that we could be that unique expression of Him again. God does not want to change your personality and who He created you to be. He just wants you be the person He created redeemed from the sin of the world, a new creation in Christ. Everyone was created with gifts and a personality like no one else and God wants to use that. He’s not looking to change your DNA, just your sin into righteousness. Don’t let the world, friends or family condemn you for your past. And definitely do not condemn yourself. Latch on to God’s forgiveness and love and then and only then will you be able to forgive and love yourself. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Spirit of Alcohol

It’s a Spirit
 I know there are people who have lost family and friends as a result of people being intoxicated behind the wheel of an automobile. For centuries we have referred to alcohol as a spirit. You can ride down the highway and see a flashing sign that says SPIRTS.  We know what that is. We know we can pull in and buy something to drink and it will change who we are.
I attend several college football games each year and I see the drinking that goes on especially with students who are in school. The universities are not only producing our next great leaders and educators but they are producing our next generations’ alcoholics. Nobody knows who is going to drink for the first time and then two years later develop a drinking problem that they cannot kick unless something supernatural happens in their life. Parents who are not addicted to alcohol but drink socially in their home are sending the message to their children that it is socially acceptable. You have no idea if your child will become an alcoholic or not. You are gambling with your child’s future. Remember, alcohol is called a spirit and spirits deceive which is what alcohol has done for centuries. Please do not fall into the trap of feeling that just because you drink sociably and can stop anytime that all an alcoholic has to do is just stop. That is not the case.
I wanted to drink two beers and stop my entire life and stop but never accomplished it. This spirit is deceiving humanity and will continue to do so. I want to encourage families out there to not accept what society says is okay. Your child may be the next that can’t stop and it started with a glass of wine at your dinner table that you said is okay. Let’s stop introducing the drug that is the number one killer of life in America to our children.
Alcohol, it is a drug.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

An Emotional Experience?

After staying in a detox wing for two days from drinking and cocaine abuse, I was transferred to a semi-private room, a very nice room, as it should have been for a fee of $25,000.00 for twenty-eight days. This was in 1984. I am sure the fees are much higher now.  I was 21 and had checked into my first drug rehabilitation program. I had been raised in church. I need to place emphasis on raised in church. I never went to church because I wanted to and I never personally understood why I was going. I believe I may have been some sort of an agnostic…  One who is skeptical about the existence of God but does not profess true atheism.

I think deep down I might have believed; but, my life didn’t reflect any sort of belief at all.
Lying in this very expensive room reflecting on my future I knew that I was on a really bad road.  From the depths of my heart and soul I can remember saying the words…. God Help Me! Now you have to understand I am not, nor was I a crazy person, but at that moment I experienced something that the only way to describe it was: a very light dose of electricity went through my body. I was at peace with myself and I felt like I had some hope. That is the only way I knew to describe it.

Excited about this experience I went to my counselor the next morning to share with him what had happened.  He was nice and polite but he had to refer me to the Catholic Priest…who had gone through a secular treatment program for alcoholism. I was very excited about what had happened to me the night before and I shared with the priest what had happened. He looked at me and said “what you had was an emotional experience and you need to work the program and you are going to do well.”

This is a person that I am looking up to, I am going to listen to, and put my faith in what he says which is what I did.  It was because of experiences like this that I will share more of later in the book, and the deliverance from my addictions later in life that has driven me to write this book. As it turns out, it was not an emotional experience!!! That priest was wrong!!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Am I an enabler?

I can remember the day so well when my father said son, I am going to make sure that I am not responsible for your death. Now what he meant by that was I am going to see to it that it is not my money or any other help that I may give you that enables you to make a choice that could cost you your life. Best decision he ever made as a father of someone struggling with addiction.
Are you an enabler?
An enabler is a person who, acting out of a sincere sense of love, loyalty and concern, steps in to protect, cover up for, make excuses for and become more responsible for the chemically dependent person. This can prevent the chemically dependent individual from the crisis that might bring about change, and thereby prolong his/her illness. Some common enabling behaviors are:
¨ Avoiding problems by trying to keep the peace. Believing that a lack of conflict will  solve problems.
¨ Denying that the person is using drugs or is chemically dependent.
¨ Keeping your feelings inside.
¨ Minimizing: "It's not so bad, things will get better when..."
¨ Lecturing, blaming, or criticizing the chemically dependent person.
¨ Taking over his/her responsibilities.
¨ Protecting the chemically dependent person from pain.
¨ Feeling superior; treating the dependent person like a child.
¨ Trying to control the dependent person.
In Luke 15:11-32 we have a story of a father letting his son go and hit bottom because of his foolish behavior. Eventually the son comes home and the father rejoices but the bible is very clear that the father did not go and rescue his son from the pit he was in. Also it is interesting that the bible tells us that the son had “come to his senses” and also returned home humble with no demands such as…..can I have my room back, my allowance back, my car back etc… No, he returned asking to be like one of his fathers servants. If you have a family member that you feel like you are enabling ask God to give you the wisdom and grace to do what’s right for your loved one.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Wrapped In A Flavored Paper

2 Corinthians 11:14  for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.

Months had passed since I had tasted alcohol and cigarettes for the first time, and it was the cool thing to continue to smoke when we could, and drink whenever we could, in hopes that we wouldn’t get caught by our parents.  I have to share with you one of the funny things that we would do while we were smoking cigarettes.  One of my friends’ parents smoked, so if he had been smoking it was hard for them to smell it on him.   They would smell of his hand.   He and the rest of us decided to wear a golf glove while we smoked in case any of our parents wanted to smell of our hands.  The things we would do and lies we would tell to continue our mischief.
You know I can remember my Dad saying that he believed anything I would say until I was about 14 years old, well that’s about right. Then the lies and deception began.  Deception raised its ugly head for me walking in our neighborhood one evening. One of my friends had pulled out a joint and started smoking and then he offered me some.  Now you have to understand that I had turned down marijuana several times thinking to myself that I would never use illegal drugs.   I credit the way I was raised to being able to turn it down as many times as I did.  Finally it’s like the enemy knew exactly what to put in front of me so that I would give in to the temptation.
My friend showed me the rolling papers he had used to roll this joint and they were flavored, a flavored rolling paper!  That means the pot will be flavored, right?  I don’t know, all I know is that the fear I had for the pot had subsided and I was ready to give in and smoke it.
You see it had been dressed up nice just like the cigarette commercials that used to be on TV, the beer commercials you see now on TV that has beautiful people having a wonderful time.  It doesn’t show you the person addicted to the alcohol, killing themselves and somebody else on the highway.  It doesn’t show you the thousands of broken homes as a result of something being dressed up to look harmless.   Not only is it harmful but is killing thousands and thousands of people.
So, it began, I finally said yes because it was dressed up in a flavored paper.
It doesn’t matter where you are in your life, if you are a Christian or not, the bible tells us that Satan will come as an angel of light.  If you are someone that is not living for God, the enemy will come at you in the form of a flavored rolling paper. If you are a seasoned Christian, the enemy can come at you in a choir robe. In other words we always need to be on guard with making right decisions because the decisions we make could not only effect that moment but the rest of our lives.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Contentment for Safety

Proverbs 30:8-9

8 Remove far from me falsehood and lies; Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me with the food that is needful for me: 9 Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is Jehovah? Or lest I be poor, and steal, and use profanely the name of my God.

There was a time I did not understand the concept of being content in whatever situation may happen in my life.  I know I have not arrived, but I sure am a lot better off than I was prior to knowing that God had a plan for my life.  

The apostle Paul told us that he had learned the art of being content in whatever situation he was in, and that was proven by his life...Philippians 4:11  Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. 

I believe Paul's secret to being content was being convinced that he would spend eternity with Christ.  Before knowing Christ, I can remember chasing after the things of this world only to come up empty every time.  I only got temporary pleasure, whether it was drugs, drinking, or just chasing after what the world had convinced me was fun.  The world’s fun is temporary.

Just imagine if your happiness totally relied on your family, your job, your favorite hobby or even your favorite sports team.  Everything I have listed will fail you at some point but Gods love and His word never fails us.

As a believer if you are walking with God and praying what this scripture states…. Proverbs 30: 8 Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me with the food that is needful for me and not chasing greedily after the riches of this world then you can be assured what God provides for you is exactly what you need and therefore you are able to remain content.

As we look at verse 9.... Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is Jehovah? Or lest I be poor, and steal, And use profanely the name of my God.  It needs to be of deep concern and prayer that I remain on the steps that God has planned for me and continually ask God, give me what you want me to have.

You know me better than anybody else,

You know what I can handle,

You know how much wealth will puff me up with pride and forget You, and

You know how little I can handle so that I would not do something illegal and forget You as well.

The word of God tells us in 1 Timothy 6:6 that godliness with contentment is great gain.... I can remember when I first came to Christ and literally had nothing materialistic; it was probably the most content time of my life.  So it is a constant battle as we gain wealth, position, and fame that we pray that God would keep us content and give us exactly what we need.  If we want great gain in our life and be able to walk in constant freedom, we need to remain content where there is safety.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Pull and Deception of Cocaine

2 Peter 2:22   It has happened to them according to the true proverb , “ A DOG RETURNS TO ITS OWN VOMIT ,” and, “A sow , after washing , returns to wallowing in the mire .”

I was married, working in the automobile business and really thought I had gotten my life back on track.  About two years prior I had gone to the first of several rehabs and really desired change, but the pull of drugs was something I could not handle in my own strength.  After months of so-called social drinking and drug use, I had purchased a large amount of cocaine, went out-of-town and cannot really explain why a husband would leave his wife and just start driving….except

That's the pull and deception of cocaine.

I can remember two days into this binge of using cocaine. I was in a hotel warring within myself, wanting to stop, afraid to go home, confused, and quite frankly was concerned about my health.  Trying to reach out the best way I knew how, I called my counselor from rehab and told him my state of mind, what I was doing, and asked him if he could come see me.  He couldn't, and asked if I would flush the drugs down the toilet.  The problem was I had been on the phone with him a while and I was starting to crave more cocaine so I told him that I had flushed the drugs so I could get off of the phone to continue to use.

That's the pull and deception of cocaine.

The next morning I somehow convinced myself to go home even though I still had cocaine and was in my third day with no sleep.  Continuing to use as I was traveling home, deceiving myself that everything was going to be alright, and I had thought of the perfect lies to cover my absence for three days.

That's the pull and deception of cocaine.

Not too far from home I looked in the rear view mirror to see my face and eyes because I wasn't feeling well at all but continued to use.  As I looked at my face I noticed my lips were a shade of blue so now I am really concerned.  It was almost immediately I saw an exit for a hospital with an emergency room so I took the exit.  As I was on the exit I took the bag of cocaine and threw it out the window. You see when I was convinced I might die I was willing to give it up.  I checked into the emergency room and told the doctor exactly what I had been doing and they told me my vital signs were in the danger zone. They kept me for hours, gave me some medicine to get my vital signs back to normal and then released me. What would happen next would be a classic example of how deceptive our heart can be, especially under the influence of cocaine. I went back to the exit where I threw the cocaine out the window, parked my car, and walked up and down the exit searching for it.

That's the pull and deception of cocaine.

I know that this sounds crazy that someone would do this, but the reality is, remorse and guilt is always temporary.  If you treat your spouse wrong, look at pornography, have an anger problem etc., and you find yourself temporarily getting a handle on these issues for them to only return, it’s because the remorse wears off and you do not have the power to sustain the change.  It's God that can truly give you the power to sustain change in your life.

He said in His word ....He who the Son sets free is free indeed!!  Jesus will enable you to walk free of whatever is weighing you down, just ask Him.

Otherwise we will continue to live out the scripture I used in the opening....

2 Peter 2:22   It has happened to them according to the true proverb , “ A DOG RETURNS TO ITS OWN VOMIT ,” and, “A sow , after washing , returns to wallowing in the mire .”

No matter how bad we feel about something we have done if we don't give it to Jesus it probably will return.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Look At The Scum In Here

Matthew 23:12:  And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

It was one of those nights, but thank God it was the last time I would see the inside of a jail cell as a result of my lifestyle.

We typically think of pride as something someone would struggle with who is successful, drives a nice car and lives in a nice home, etc.  But someone who is homeless, a drunkard, a drug addict with no job sitting in jail could have pride at a level much higher than the prideful successful person.

 I can remember the anger that I had toward the officer processing me into the parish jail, like it was his fault that I was in jail. I was so filled with anger and hatred toward the world.  If a happy family was walking down the street and I walked by them it would make me angry because they were so happy.  I know it sounds terrible but that’s the way it was.  I was full of pride, arrogance and anger with no hope in sight.

After I was processed, a number of us were placed into a large room to get stripped down and sprayed with something that would kill anything that might be on the inmates’ bodies; such as, lice, crabs, etc..... I know this sounds really gross but I have to paint the picture so you can get a glimpse of how dangerous pride is.  As I am writing this, over 14 years has passed and I remember what would happen in that cell with all these other men next to me like it was yesterday.  I looked around; angry at the life I was living and couldn’t believe that life had come to this again.  You see I had been locked up many times hoping that the last time would be the last time.  I was standing in the middle of about 20 men and there was a short, young, nice-looking Hispanic guy next to me.  In the middle of my selfish, angry, prideful, and hopeless world I did an inventory of everybody in that cell and then looked down at the Hispanic guy and told him "look at the scum in here."   He then looked up at me with a confused look on his face and said "dude, you are one of us."  Hard to believe that someone in my position would make a statement like that but that’s exactly what pride does to man.  It makes you very unattractive to those around you and Gods word says that He resist the proud.  It was only two days later when God would radically change my life but first I believe with all my heart He used a Hispanic man in a New Orleans cell to humble me.  Who knows it could have been an angel!!

I can’t tell you how many times someone may come into our drug treatment program, look around and say, "I’m not like these people."  The ones that believe that they are not as bad as those around them have no hope for a future until they see themselves for who they are. The apostle Paul said "I am the chief of sinners"...he also said "oh wretched man that I am". You see Paul recognized his need for a Savior!  Pride is the very thing that will keep us from moving forward in life.  You do not have to be homeless or in jail to need to move forward.  You can own your own business and be very wealthy or the pastor of a large church and pride can have you stuck.  Let it go and let God take you to another level.
 Pride was the first sin and it brought mankind great sorrow.  Sadly, it may be the last sin for many who deny Christ and refuse to surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Ski Trip

Psalm 17:8 Keep me as the apple of the eye

When I think of being the apple of Gods eye, I am reminded of when I was struggling in my addiction.  It was during one of my stays in a rehabilitation program.  My mother was trying to describe to me how much my Dad loved me and it was breaking his heart to see me live the way I was living.  She told me that I was the apple of his eye.  Words cannot describe what that meant to me and the saddest part of it was no amount of love that my Dad could show towards me was going to set me free from the sin that controlled my life.  No amount of love that I had for him was going to set me free either.  I needed the love and grace of God.  Being the apple of someone’s eye means that we are the center of their world and I believe we are the center of Gods world.  He wants the best for us and I believe God trust us!  How does it feel to know that we are trusted by God!  The bible tells us that God will trust us as we show ourselves faithful.

Luke 16:10:  He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much

One summer when I was probably about 12 years old my Dad took me and my brother to the lake.   We were all going skiing.  The day was going great.  We had a good time skiing and swimming and boat riding. Then to my surprise my Dad said that he wanted to ski.  Well I’m thinking how is this going to happen there is no one to drive the boat.   My brother and I are too young and the only time I had driven the boat was sitting in the seat with my Dad. Then the words came, Gary I want you to pull me skiing.  I was terrified and very excited all at the same time.  One thing my Dad told me was to make sure and not let go of the steering wheel because the boat pulls to the right.  Well here comes the moment when I am getting ready to pull my Dad out of the water.  I throttled the boat all the way, felt the resistance that you feel when you are jerking a skier out of the water and I was dying to see if Dad was up.  I turned around to see if Dad was up and as soon as I did I let go of the steering wheel.  The boat quickly turned to the right and was doing a 180 degree turn and we were heading back towards my Dad.  As I watched he let go of the rope and fell into the water. Thank God this incident ended well and no one was hurt.

The similarity I see here is just like I was told I am the apple of my Dads eye and he trusted me with the wheel of his boat --- we are the apple of Gods eye and He trust us and wants us to do great things!!  The main responsibility we have is trusting in Him that He is fulfilling His responsibility for our lives and we do that by not letting go of the steering wheel and looking back.
The bible tells us in Luke 9:62: But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God .”

Realizing that we are the apple of Gods eye and that He trusts us with great things will take us far.  Just grab the wheel and don't look back.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Driven by Eternity

Romans 6:22: But now being made free from sin and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto sanctification, and the end eternal life.

Many times we need to remind ourselves why are we on this journey?  First of all, God made us free from sin to become a servant of His and to have a positive influence on the world around us.  Having a positive influence on those around us and simply being driven to become a better person in Christ rest in us staying focused on eternity. The word of God tells us that life is but a vapor, so let’s face it, this life is short and really doesn't compare to eternity.  Eternity will be when God does away with time.  Now we are living in eternity!  That’s a long time and a vapor is a very short time, so where do you think our focus needs to be?

As we are praying for and witnessing to our family and friends, our focus, drive and motivation to win them to Christ does not need to be the temporary problems they may be having in life, although those problems will begin to fade away as an individual walks with the Lord.  We need to be motivated by where are they going to spend eternity?   If we could just get a glimpse of what eternity will be like, heaven or hell, as a believer we would be motivated to win our family and friends to Christ.
When I think about the thief on the cross and the pain that he was going through, the one thing that gave him hope was when Jesus told him today you will be with me in paradise.  We need to continually remind ourselves that is why we live the Christian life and that is why Christ died for us...Eternal Life.  I’m reminded of a statement I heard just the other day. If our life is a vapor then that is not a long time to hang on and do the right thing.

Matthew 18:8:  And if thy hand or thy foot causeth thee to stumble, cut it off, and cast it from thee: it is good for thee to enter into life maimed or halt, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into the eternal fire.  What Jesus is stressing here is the importance of eternity and how driven we need to be while we are living in this vapor of a life to stay focused on the life to come. The more we are focused on eternity the more productive we will be in becoming better people in this life and better witnesses to our friends and family.

There was a lady who swam from an island off the coast of California to the mainland; it was about the distance of swimming the English Channel.  It was foggy on her attempt and she could not see far ahead.  She motioned for her boat to pick her up, she said she was tired.  What she didn’t realize was she was almost there but she couldn’t see the finish line because of the fog.  She said if I had known it was that close I could have made it.  That is so much like our lives.   Remember, fog will sometimes enter into our lives and will eventually go away but quitting is forever. We have no idea when time will cease in our lives and eternity will begin. Stay focused on what matters and you will not be tempted to get in the boat when the fog sets in, instead you will stay the course and get the prize….Eternal Life

Saturday, January 14, 2012

$300.00 and a Chainsaw

1Samuel 15:22:  And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. 

This occurred early in the development of Mount Grace Teen Challenge for men. (2002) Mount Grace Teen Challenge is the second phase program for Louisiana Teen Challenge where we continue to help men after they have been in one of our other programs for at least four months. This is very similar to a previous post, The Tractor, but God used a different situation that I felt really developed my faith using $300.00 and a chainsaw.

We had not been living on the property long and I was searching for ways to raise money.  I can remember walking the property, praying and felt the Lord spoke to my heart to buy a chainsaw, take the men out to these properties that timber had been cut, cut up what the timber companies had left behind into firewood, and sell it. I called our bookkeeper, Sis Gail, and asked about purchasing a chainsaw for the ministry so we could cut firewood and hopefully make some money.  Her response was, she was sorry but we really didn’t have the money at the time and so we continued to pray. After praying about it I felt God spoke to my heart to purchase it myself.  Whoa I thought -- I don’t think we have $300.00. After thinking about it and talking to Sandy we were able to come up with $300.00 to purchase this saw.  Now, you have to understand this was almost as much as my wife and I together made in a week at this time.  But, I do not remember it being a sacrifice.....to obey is better than sacrifice.

We bought the chainsaw and 4 months later the ministry had brought in $26,000.00 selling firewood!  How many times do we ignore the still small voice tugging at the part of our humanity that is generous and we ignore it?  We really need to heed to that voice because you can never go wrong sowing into the kingdom.  It wasn't but a few months later that the businessman that donated the property to Teen Challenge called and wanted to meet with me and he said, “I want to give you and Sandy $3,000.00!!”  My first reaction was he really means he wants it to go to the ministry and so I asked him for clarity and he got real specific and said, “I do not want it to go to the ministry I want it to go to you and Sandy.” I could do nothing but cry. At that time it was a lot of money to Sandy and I. That was $300.00 x 10.....what a return on our investment!  Some people may say it is a coincidence but I know it is the blessing of God.

Always be sensitive to the voice of God because you never know what kind of investment tip He is giving you that is going to give you a major return on your money.  God does not want your sacrifice; He wants your obedience and there lies your blessing.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

I Wasn't Judged

Luke 10:33:  But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, 

It was the summer of 1997 when I met a Good Samaritan. The picture above is my mug shot and is simply a man who could not escape the grips of addiction. The puffiness in the eyes and face is not signs of being in a fight but rather the alcohol and drugs effect on my body.

I was homeless in New Orleans and was walking out of a grocery store with stolen cigarettes and beer and the strangest thing happened.  I walked over to a preacher that had children from his church in the parking lot raising money.  How crazy is that?  A man in my condition with stolen beer in my hand walking over to this preacher and all I wanted from him was prayer.  You see I was so hopeless at the time I didn’t know what to do. What I remember the most about that moment was he didn’t say anything about my drinking, smoking, or the way I looked … he just loved me and prayed for me.

 Luke 6:37:  Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: 

It was after he prayed for me and I went about my business --  which was drinking to the point of not knowing where I was and most of the time not knowing what I had done until the next day.  What happened that night would forever change my life …. getting arrested for public intoxication and being placed in jail for seven days.  During that seven days God visited me and my life was forever changed.  I can tell all about that in some other posts but what I want to focus on in this post is what happened the day I got out of jail.  I was walking down Belle Chase Highway across the river from downtown New Orleans and came across the pastor that had prayed for me.  You have to understand there were at least a million people that resided in the New Orleans area so this was not a coincidence.  This was an appointment from God.  He invited me to get into the front seat of his car while his wife graciously moved to the backseat.  I couldn’t believe the love that was shone from somebody I didn’t know.  They bought me something to eat and then they took me to the bookstore and bought me a bible. He got on the phone and tried to find me some employment.  They spent the entire day helping me and loving on me.

You see they were not like the leaders the bible tells us about that passed up someone in need:

Luke 10:30:  And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.   Luke 10:31:  And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.  Luke 10:32:  And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. 

They were the Good Samaritan that had compassion on me.  Often times as Christians and non-believers alike, we think we are compassionate.  When we do not seize the opportunity to stop and help someone with the compassion of Christ, we are no better than the priest and the Levite that passed him by.

How many people passed me by?  How many people have YOU passed by?

Let’s ask God to help us help others.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Dont Get A Co-Signer

1 Kings 12:8 But he forsook the counsel of the old men which they had given him, and took counsel with the young men that were grown up with him

Not a good thing to get your counsel from ya boys or ya girls, that is the 2018 translation to this story. To sum up what happened here was Rehoboam had sought counsel from some older wise men and by the way they had given him some good counsel.
The bible tells us that he forsook the counsel of these men and sought more counsel from some younger men that would basically tell him what he wanted to hear. This is never a good road to take, if wanting to know Gods plan for your life is a concern of yours. I think that Christians tend to get it confused sometimes in that they concentrate so much on wanting to know Gods plan for their life while not focusing on their personal walk with Christ. The most important thing is our personal walk which is obedience to Gods word, and what Gods plan for us is on this earth will fall into place.
The bible tells us in Proverbs 11:14 that there is safety in a multitude of counsel 
This is where I believe many Christians today miss Gods direction for their life and suffer for it, rather it be relationships, career moves, college, full-time ministry etc.... All of these decisions are major crossroads in our lives and as a Christian we should so want Gods perfect plan for our lives. That is why we chose to follow God, right? So we could get some direction in our lives. Sometimes we get so comfortable with our walk with God that we start leaning on our own decisions. Proverbs 3:5 says Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. Leaning on our own decisions as a Christian really shouldn't be an option.
I have seen many lives go through unecessary heartache as a result of doing what Rehoboam did and that is not take the counsel from the older and wise and listen to his or her friends who were younger and not as mature. He or she was looking for a co-signer... That is what I have seen so many times when people look to there friends who are no further along in the Lord than they are wanting counsel. We need to go to the older and wiser in the Lord and LISTEN!!! God will use these people to help you make right decisions.
The bible tells us because Rehoboam did not follow wise counsel and instead looked for co-signers, and, he found them ( young people he grew up with) God left Rehoboam to his own folly.
When you are faced with major decisions in your life be very careful to seek out older wise counsel that will tell you what you need to hear and not what you want to hear. Go outside of your family and friends because let’s face it they are the ones who will be more likely to co-sign with you and tell you what you want to hear. I am not saying ignore the counsel of family and friends but that does not need to be our lone counsel.
It’s sort of like finding someone who would not co-sign with you on a new car, that same person that is older and wiser in the Lord will probably not co-sign wrong direction for your life either.
Find several people older and wiser in the Lord that would not co-sign on a car with you or a foolish decision that could cause you heart ache!!

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Tractor

James 2:20:  But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

I am presently with the ministry, Louisiana Teen Challenge. I would like to share with you a lesson I learned some time ago working with the ministry.  My wife and I were in the early stages of pioneering a new facility in northern Louisiana which would eventually help men that are struggling with life-controlling issues. The property had some acreage and I was a city boy that was so looking forward to farming the land so we would have work for the students (men in the program) and hopefully bring in some income as well. The tractor at the ministry was over 40 years old and not dependable at all, so we really needed an upgrade. The ministry was not in a position to buy a new tractor.  So, we began to pray and that’s when it was obvious that we needed to work as well.  You see, that faith without works is dead. So we began calling churches and close friends of the ministry to ask if they would make a donation towards the purchase of a new tractor. After about a week of phone calls, we raised about $6,000 but, we had a problem, a new tractor was going to cost about $20,000!

If I can be totally honest with you, I was a little discouraged because we needed another $14,000 before we could buy a tractor like we needed. A couple more days went by and we convinced ourselves that we would call around and see what payments would be if we put $6,000 down but we really could not afford the payments.

We were reminded of an acquaintance that we had met in New Orleans and a friend of the ministry.  We had heard he went to work for a John Deere dealership in south Texas. We had called a few dealerships getting prices and knowing he was a friend of the ministry we felt like he would give us a fair price. I called him and asked him what the payments would be on a particular tractor which retailed for $22,000.  He said, “Give me an hour and I will call you back.”

He called us back in about 30 minutes and said dealer cost on that tractor is $18,900 and if you put $6,000 down your payments will be “$0” …  he was donating the balance!! I was blown away at the generosity and faithfulness of God and it was that day God showed me that faith without works is dead. I really believe that if some effort, some work had not been put toward getting this tractor that if I would have called around with no money this miracle would not have happened.

The word tells us in the next two verses in James:  Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?  Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? 
Let me encourage you to work towards what you need (physically, financially, or spiritually) and while having faith, God will come through and you will get your miracle.

And remember faith without works is dead.