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Showing posts with label New Year. Show all posts
Showing posts with label New Year. Show all posts

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Happy New Year 2021


 I wish all of my friends a Happy New Year!

When your “2020 year in review” sounds like a ravings of a mad man caught in the heights of ecstasy, where COVID-19 is merely an interesting point of the subtext, and it is so amazing that you had to write it down, but you can’t even bring yourself to share it on the restricted blog because it’s just so fantastic, you know it has been an eventful year.  

For me 2020, was one of the best years of my life because I trusted the Lord more than I ever have and He has taken me from the valley of the shadow of death to the rivers of living waters.  I have no choice but to praise Him and follow where He leads.

Keep walking and talking with God! This is the path least travelled.

God bless you all!

Monday, December 31, 2018

2019: Happy New Year!


Happy New Year!

2018 was a year of seismic changes in my life. The beginning of the end of my 20-year marriage has taken center stage but I would say that I have grown exponentially because of it and there were many good things that happened this year despite the turmoil. 

My daughter Haley graduated high school! Haley has overcome some trials of her own this year as she was diagnosed with diabetes and suffered the relocation of her long-term boyfriend to another state.  She is becoming the independent woman I raised her to be. She is learning to drive, going to college, and celebrating the new year in Atlanta!

My son, Brennan, has continued to flourish despite everything too.  He has continued to excel in chorus and drama in school and has really shined in both realms performing solos and being selected for all county, and all state in chorus and becoming one of the leading actors in drama in last spring’s musical, and this fall’s Shakespeare festival. This spring he secured the role of Rock Star: Conrad Birdy in THS’s upcoming “Bye-Bye Birdy!”

Through it all my kids have supported me completely. We have stuck together, committed to find a way to maintain our home as we look to the uncertain future of preparing for a new one.  

This morning as I was preparing for the future by packing boxes for the eventual move?  I discovered some notes from the Men’s Bible study group I go to on Sunday mornings.  The notes in question must have been from the heat of my filing for divorce because they revealed the sharp pains I was going through at the time.  

The notes were based on a teaching from one of the guys in our group, He presented the “3 needs of life”.    The three needs of life were:
1.    Love
2.    Significance
3.    Security

So, I had written those points out with the following personal reflections.

1.    Love – No Love.  My wife loves _______.
2.    Significance - Job re-assignment and transfer feels like a demotion.  My wife’s complete disrespect and betrayal.  Divorce will cost almost everything.
3.    Security – I have no idea where me and my kids will live and what we will live on.
   At the bottom of these delightful insights, I had scrawled: GOD help me! 

It may have been bright in August but those were some dark days. 

But you know what?  God did help me!

Back in the spring of this year, before this craziness, I signed up to take classes to get my master’s degree in Christian Counseling.  So, around the same time as I wrote this note, I got on with my studies. The class?   “How to Deal with Emotional Crisis”.  No kidding. 

One of the texts for this class was “How to Handle Your Emotions” by June Hunt.  The book leads Christians through the process of how people of the Christian faith are to determine their Self-worth and to deal with emotions like depression, grief, anger, fear, and rejection.   It was an invaluable resource in getting me to properly deal with everything I am going through.  The Lord has used it to bless me and I have taken it and taught lessons from it at Celebrate Freedom, our local Christian Recovery group.


It showed me that I had LOVE, SIGNIFICANCE, and SECURITY in God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. My worth is not based on my marriage, my job, or my performance.  I am priceless. God loved me so much that He sent His Son to die for me.  He has given me His Holy Spirit to live in and through me. I am never alone because He will never leave me nor forsake me.  I will never die. If this body gives out, I will find myself in the kingdom of heaven surrounded by loved ones and fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who cheering me on as I walk in faith.

My divorce isn’t over.  I still have to list and sell my house. I don’t know when it will be over or where I will live afterwards but I know that come what may I will overcome because of the blood of Jesus Christ that has washed me clean and given me life never ending.  

Thank You JESUS! Thank You GOD! Thank You HOLY SPIRIT!  

If you have had a bad year, say a simple prayer to make Jesus your Lord and Savior.  Put your faith in Him and you can walk through anything!

God bless you and yours!

Happy New Year!


Sunday, December 31, 2017

Celebrate Freedom: 2017 year in review.

Celebrate Freedom: 2017 year in review. 

I have been blessed to be set free from my alcohol and drug addiction since 2015 due to my faith in Jesus Christ and my participation in the Celebrate Freedom Recovery Program at Rock Solid Church.  Since completing the program in June 2015, I have become active in the ministry by teaching on a regular basis. As 2017 began I was honored to take on the added responsibility of leading the men’s discussion group for our Thursday Night meetings. 

 
In response to the Opioid Epidemic that has had such an impact on our community this year and because of Celebrate Freedom’s desire to help more people leave their hurts, habits, and hang ups behind, the leadership team of Celebrate Freedom (CF) decided to expand the vision of Celebrate Freedom to go beyond our stated goals of recovery and discipleship to included community outreach.  

Previously we had relied on announcements at Rock Solid Church and word of mouth to let people know about our recovery program.  This year it was our desire to more proactively promote our group to the community at large and to support other recovery groups, organizations, and county agencies that were fighting the Opiod Epidemic and other problems that affect the community.  

I took on the responsibility to act as a liaison to the community and to promote Celebrate Freedom as a recovery option for the Columbia County community in whatever capacity I could think of. 

Our first course of action was to support and to become a member of Columbia Pathways to Recovery.  Columbia Pathways to Recovery ((http://columbiapathwaystorecovery.org/) is a Community Recovery Organization and advocacy group whose goal is “to educate the community about the substance abuse issues that occur in our community”



They have partnered with Chatham Cares 4 U to create a help line for those in Columbia County who seek recovery:
Columbia Pathways To Recovery / Chatham Cares 4 U Recovery Helpline
877-HOPE-365 (877-467-3365)
9am to 9pm / 7 days a week
Information, resources and referrals

Chatham Cares 4 U (https://www.facebook.com/chathamcares4u/) is the Chatham Police Department’s progressive community program that seeks to save and change lives of those with substance abuse problems.


             There is great work being done through Columbia Pathways to Recovery and Chatham Cares 4 U to battle the Opioid Epidemic that plagues our community and Celebrate Freedom fully supports their efforts.  

Since June I have attended CPR’s monthly community meetings, Project Safe Point’s Narcan Trainings, and various Substance Abuse Community Panel Discussions throughout Columbia County to educate myself and to represent and promote Celebrate Freedom as a recovery option for Columbia County residents. Celebrate Freedom designed a T-shirt and informational fliers to raise awareness of our recovery group and I tried to don a shirt and distribute our fliers at each event I attended. 

            In an effort to promote our program to the community at large I also represented Celebrate Freedom by wearing a shirt at various community walking  events in and outside Columbia County , such as, CPR’s Recovery Walk,  The Walk to End Alzheimer’s, The Out of the Darkness Suicide Prevention Walk, and Ferncliff Forrest’s Turkey Trot. 

            Celebrate Freedom was also represented by tabling at Taconic Retreat Centers’ Fall Festival and Hudson’s Winter Walk Event (at Rock Solid Church).

Celebrate Freedom also tabled at CPR’s hosted Marc Mero Speaking Event at Hudson High School where our team distributed various information and 100 Bibles to the community.   


Members of Rock Solid Church and Celebrate Freedom also represented the Hope of a Life in Christ by Collecting for The Salvation Army. 

I would like to thank the leadership team, participants, and the many volunteers of Celebrate Freedom that gave their time and hearts to share the hope that they know is possible through faith in Christ. 

We have been faithful in our efforts to promote our program and the hope that is found in a life that is transformed by faith in Jesus Christ.    It has been a great year and I look forward to serving Celebrate Freedom and the community at large in 2018.  

If you have any questions or ideas of how we can serve the community and promote our group in the New Year,  please contact me at mt4christ@yahoo.com.



Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015: What a year!

A year passes and you look back at all the things that have happened and sometimes it’s a regular passage of time with few changes or challenges other than coping with the change of the seasons and growing another year older. 

2015 was not one of those years.  I reflected on my year and my journey today and was brought to tears of joy and was shaken by the unbelievable experiences that I had in 2015.  As David Bowie sang,  CH- Ch-Ch-Ch Changes, (turn and face the strange)….. CH –CH- Changes just gonna have to be a different man. 

The most significant change in my life is that in March I decided to pursue and surrender to Christ to the point that I decided to stop drinking and go into recovery.  I know that sounds strange but that really is what happened.  Granted after attempting to quit drinking in the fall of 2014 on my own and failing, I entered into a pretty low period of regular drinking and hopelessness wondering why if I was a born again Christian for four years I was still caught up in this viscous Jekyll & Hyde cycle where I knew drunkenness and my faith didn’t compute.  I had reveled in the forgiveness I felt after being saved but I fell into sin in some ways worse than I ever did before I was a Christian.   Much to my shame, I used my forgiven status as license to sin.  So in late 2014 and earlier this year, I sort of hit rock bottom.  I hurt others, myself, and my relationship with Christ. It was at this point that I didn’t care what anyone thought about me or my reputation.  I reached the end of my rope and was all in for Christ. I was going to put down the lust of the flesh and pick up my cross and follow Him. 
    
So I initially went into recovery for religious reasons.  I didn’t have a problem. I could quit drinking.  I was giving it up for my relationship with Christ.    BRAVO!!!  

You see, that was sort of a cop out.  “I wasn’t like the rest of these drunks and addicts who ruined their lives.  I have a job, support my family, and even go to Bible College. I’m trying to get closer to Jesus. I’m really more of a social drinker but I am willing to lay that down for Christ. ”  

You see this is denial.  Although I had the illusion of control over my “bad habit”, I soon learned that I was in fact “powerless to control my tendency to do the wrong thing”.  I could hold out for a while; just have a few drinks and stop here and there but that TENDENCY to get good and drunk was coming sooner or later.  I had a million reasons to drink: holidays, weekends, to celebrate virtually anything, to reward myself, to blow off steam, to deal with stress, game’s on!, etc.   The TENDENCY loved these reasons. It was my recognizing the TENDENCY that made me able to admit that I was powerless over my addictions and compulsive behaviors and that because of this my life (although sometimes organized, systematized, and regulated) was unmanageable.   

So I came out. I announced to the world I was in recovery and amazing things happened. 

I saw the presence of the Holy Spirit at work right in front of my eyes one night at recovery.  We had been at it for a few weeks and an older gentleman in our group (“Stan” age 70ish) was showing up but wasn’t sure about all this Jesus stuff.  We were getting started in our small discussion group and just going over the first couple of principles.    Principle 2 is “Earnestly believe that God exists, that I matter to Him, and that He has the power to help me recover.”  Stan wasn’t so sure about this but he let me continue to read the next one.  Principle 3 is “Consciously, choose to commit all my life and will to Christ’s care and control”.  To which Stan, said he wasn’t there yet.  We said that we respected that and continued along.  In attendance was “Brian”, a stereotypical addict, tattooed, intense, ex-con in his early to mid-20’s.  Brian, although his father was reportedly a pastor, had aspirations of being a heavy metal musician but had spent his life in addiction and incarceration.  Everyone took turns sharing their struggles.  Brian was discussing his girlfriend and how she suffered because of him and how he loved her. At one point Brian lamented how he wanted to quit cigarettes but couldn’t do it.  He said “If Jesus could just reach through the veil and tell me to quit. I could do it. “Breaking group guidelines; old Stan says something to the effect of “Son… you just…  (At which point Stan sort of brings his hands together and pulls them away from each other in an opening gesture)… let go and let God.”   This seemingly tame gesture hits Brian hard and has me saying “Stan… that’s exactly what we were talking about in the principles!”  Whether or not my comment was heard is hard to say because the next thing you know “Brian” is out of his seat and standing in front of Stan and says “Stan, you say you don’t know whether or not God cares about you but I’m telling you HE does! And we are going to pray for you, and you are going to pray to ask Jesus into your life!”   Stan hesitates for a second but quickly pulls himself out of his chair and starts praying to ask Jesus into his life!  The guys rise, join hands, lay hands on Stan and pray. Brian starts praying in tongues.  I reach out and lay hold of Stan and pray.  Meanwhile the group leader, my sponsor and Spiritual mentor Bob Costello, is in the other room dealing with new comers.  He’s been working with Stan from the beginning and Stan gets saved while he’s in the other room!  Stan is in his 70s and was in a bad place in his life.  He grew up on a farm and the tales he told of his childhood described a struggling existence where joy and love were not expressed but that night in the basement of Rock Solid Church he knew the love of Christ!  He was washed clean by the Holy Spirit and he was in awe of the power that had come over him.    Stan was struggling financially at the time, in danger in losing his farm.  Since coming to Christ though, Stan is no longer in financial difficulty and has started a foundation to help veterans that are struggling to readjust to civilian life after combat deployment. 

Brian never returned to recovery after that night.  Ironically, Brian, the son of a pastor, was used by God to lead an old man to Christ, who upon being saved made it his mission to help young men who are struggling to adjust to society, like Brian. 

Stan and I finished the 16 week recovery program.  Stan went on to do his thing with his farm and the veterans.  I went on to be part of the leadership team when our recovery group, Celebrate Freedom, started up again in the fall.  Three weeks in to the program, I picked up my guitar and lead the group in worship.  Just two songs a week; but man to use my guitar (which I had only played in my basement, alone, and usually under the influence) to give glory to God for what He has done in my life is something I would have not believed 12 months ago. 

Our group is on hiatus for a while but when we start up again, My friend, Bill Hamm, and I will be doing the teaching each week.  

In May, I earned an Associate Degree in Applied Science in Telecommunications Technology from Hudson Community College completing a course of study that took five years, going to school one day a week through my employer. 

Also that month, I earned my Associate Degree in Biblical Studies from Vision Christian Bible College & Seminary, taking classes at night one day a week for the past two years at Rock Solid Church, Hudson NY.  I just completed my first semester of my junior year as I pursue a Bachelor Degree. 

This year also saw my physical body transformed.  I started reading Men’s Health magazine and started exercising every morning.  I get up at 3:30 am and exercise while listening to an R.C. Sproul teaching about God each day. After my work out, I pray thanking God for everything I have and the earnest intension to surrender my will for His will for my life.  I pray for friends, family, and the pastors that have crossed my path. I pray for the persecuted church, those suffer throughout the world for their faith in Christ. I then pray for the lost, for the Holy Spirit to convict them of their sin and to bring them to Christ for their salvation.   I then read the Bible.  I then read a couple of prayers out of 2 devotional books I have. Then it’s off to work. 

I know it sounds intense. I share this though because God wants our relationship with Him.  The way to build a relationship is to spend time and to put in effort.  More than once this year the prayers I have made in the morning have been answered in an amazing way. 
 
I started doing the physical work of a lineman and walking on my lunch breaks during the summer.  In autumn, I start to run.   On September 26, I ran in my first 5k.  I have since run in 11 more.   Through nutrition, exercise, and faith, I have built muscle and have seen changes in my physique.  I have lost 45 pounds this year and I continue to train to be healthy. 

I have had spiritual breakthroughs in my understanding of Christianity and my relationship with Christ that I didn’t think were possible.  It is my goal to glorify and serve the Lord with rest of my life.   I have committed myself to a missionary trip to Africa in February where I will perform humanitarian work and where I will spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I am not sure where God is taking me but after a year like this one I know it won’t be boring. 

I strongly encourage everyone who reads this to press in to your faith and surrender yourselves to Christ.  I wish everyone who reads this a very Happy New Year!  First Sober New Year for me in 25 years! God Bless You!