Wednesday, November 11, 2015

No Man Left Behind - Happy Veterans Day.

On this Veteran's Day I ran in the 10th Annual Valatie NY Veterans Day 5K in my on going mission to recondition my body from the life of overindulgence and sin I was caught in for most of my life.  I jogged for a short time in my 30's but never was much of a runner, I placed 66 out of 109 with a time of 30:18 with a pace of 9:45, a nice steady run. I have had better times in a few 5K's I have run recently but I am becoming content in just running a steady race.  Running sure can humble you. A pair of boys,  9 &10 year olds, and an 11 year old girl were just in front of me at the finish line.  So if speed comes I'll let it but I am not going to kill myself to get 63rd place! 

I only recently decided to let go of alcohol from my life entirely and treat my body like the vessel that carries the Holy Spirit that it is.  The truth is to my shame I at one time tipped the scales at 320lbs!  I wasn't there long because I knew that over 300 was way too much, even at 6 feet tall.  So I started to exercise, stopped drinking, took pills, and watched what I ate and got to 290 lbs.  Last fall I had got down to 270lbs, I wasn't in recovery at the time so on Thanksgiving I was encouraged to have a beer or two.  I only had 2 that day but man when you open the door to seeking comfort from anything but God you can go wrong fast.  The next thing I knew I was drinking 8-10 beers on a daily basis, feeling like crap and repenting each morning and falling right back into it come sundown the same day.  So after a few months I was back to 290 again, depressed, convicted, low.  Luckily God put it in retired Pastor Bob Costello to start a Celebrate Recovery program in our Church back in March. When Bob announced it in front of the congregation he might as well had been talking just to me. I knew this was for me.  

So I went and was 2 weeks sober when I got called away for a rock and roll weekend in Hunter mountain, a bunch of 50 somethings reliving classic rock glory. I was new to Recovery and I was too weak to even try to stay sober in the midst of such a gathering.  Maybe I could have tried, but I'l be honest and say I didn't. I even picked up a couple of packs of smokes, even though I had quit years a go. I figured when in Rome... just do it, all in.  Well, truth is even though I drank to excess, I didn't have a "great time, it was okay but I felt like it wasn't worth it and I was really convicted on Sunday march 22nd that I was done for real. I reported my failures to the recovery group thinking I would be condemned for relapsing after 2 weeks  but was met with understanding and support. I am happy to say I haven't had a drink or cigarette since.  I completed the 12 steps and have joined the leadership team for the latest session of Celebrate Freedom (because Bob did a discipleship class after the program and we didn't meet every single week as Celebrate Recovery, we had to choose a different name).  A few weeks into the program I picked up my guitar and now lead the group in worship each week!  Don't get excited, Eric Clapton I am not, pretty messy but with feeling for sure. 

Anyway, since entering recovery I have become more disciplined with exercise, morning prayer and bible study.  Since March I have gotten my weight down to 250 lbs, and gotten some definition in my arms, legs, shoulders, and stomach, following tips from Men's Health magazine.  It is a work in progress but I am fighting the good fight having progressed from walking to running, having completed seven 5Ks since September.  My next scheduled 5K  isn't til December unless I sign up for another in the interim, I would but work is picking up and overtime is calling to help pay for my missions trip to Africa.  Oh yeah, going to Zambia in February for 2 weeks, also Zimbabwe or Botswana details still getting hashed out.  I am also working on my Bachelor degree in Biblical Studies at Vision Christian Bible College Through Rock Solid Church.  

Anyway, on this Veterans's Day I would like to take the time to thank my father, Mathew Clark, for his service in Viet Nam and the Navy Reserves during Desert Storm.  Also I would like to thank my brother Michael for his service in Operation Uphold Democracy (Haiti 1994).  You guys risked your lives serving this country and I will never fully understand what it is like knowing that you could be sent into a situation where you don't come back alive.  I know our family was very fortunate that you both returned home safely without serious injury.  

Military service reminds me of the sacrifice Jesus made, living a sinless life and paying for all mankind's sins on the cross at Calvary. Jesus gave his life for us. The spirit of brotherhood that military service can instill is summarized in John 15:13 "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends."   Service men and women at times have laid down their lives for their brothers in arms.  Acts of bravery should be recognized and I would encourage anyone reading this to thank and veterans or active service ment and women for their sacrifices for our freedom. 

With that said let's please use the freedom that so many have paid for with their lives to share the gospel. As great as life in the United States can be, it only lasts until we take our last breath. Without Christ, people are condemned to eternity in Hell.  We need to share the gospel boldly and let people know how serious it is to become a member of Christ's kingdom.  Jesus said in Matthew 13:45 -46 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls,  who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it."   So the kingdom of heaven, is worth everything we have! When we die we hold onto nothing from this world. If we die without Christ, in Hell we will curse every moment of our existence. There will be no fond memories of our old lives. We won't be partying with our old buddies.  Luke 13:28 says "There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out."   So share the gospel, save a soul.  Saving lives are heroic, but how futile it will be to save a life only to know that we failed to act to save others from Hell. We need to save our friends, family , and neighbors from Hell. We will boldly fight for the souls of all we encounter.  We should leave no man behind.  

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