Showing posts with label Veteran's Day. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Veteran's Day. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Purity 262: Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

Purity 262     11/11/2020          

 Good morning and Happy Veteran’s Day!

I captured today’s photo last week in Burtonsville NY. I was enjoying the weather and decided to take a short hike and was pleased to enjoy this view. It’s great to have the freedom to explore this earth and see the beauty of God’s creation. It’s just great to be free, which brings us to Veteran’s Day. 

For those with the day off, consider taking a part of it to thank a veteran for their service. You have the day off because of their decision to serve our country and sacrifice a part of their lives to serve and defend the country that provides the freedom which we all enjoy. 

I know several men and women who served. I have the utmost respect for all of those who have served and don’t tolerate any disparaging remarks or attitudes towards the ones who were brave enough to sign their lives over to the armed services.   Their decision to serve cost them all something. Some have experienced physical pain and injury and now have permanent disabilities because of their service. Others have mental and emotional scars of trauma that don’t necessarily show. All of them experienced the other worldly phenomenon of stepping out of the paradigm of “normal life” into the challenges of military service that us “normal citizens” will never know.  

So, veterans, thank you for your service!

While I didn’t join the service, ten years ago I decided to follow the one who laid his life down for all of us, Jesus Christ.  Since experiencing the joy of salvation, I feel the least I can do is share the message of hope and life that comes through following Jesus Christ.  I have served the kingdom of God through missions, serving at my local church, and through leading the weekly recovery ministry at Rock Solid Church.

One aspect of our recovery ministry that has parallels to military service is accountability.  Like two soldiers in a fox hole who have to cover one another’s backs, those in recovery can cover each other by becoming accountability partners: two or more people who agree to support one another and hold each other responsible for performing different tasks or living according to a particular set of principles.  

The idea behind accountability is to cover and expose one another’s blind spots.  And boy do we have them!  When you are walking out of darkness into the light, everything we knew about living has to change. Like a civilian going into boot camp, those who enlist themselves into recovery suddenly discover that there are new ways to think and live that they have to adapt to.  Our sponsors and accountability partners won’t be barking orders (or at least they shouldn’t) but they have experience to show us how to live a life of sobriety and peace.  We weren’t drafted into recovery and we can quit anytime we want but our sponsors and accountability partners are examples of the fact that a new life without our old hurts, habits, and hang-ups is possible and desirable. 

I’ve discovered what that new life is like because of those who were wiling to sacrifice their time to guide and support me.  So, I now stand every week for those who are looking for hope and a new life.  Be it addiction, trauma, depression, anger, anxiety, lust, or loneliness,  just like those grunts in that proverbial fox hole, I “got your six” and I will be here for those who have reached the end of searching for meaning in this world and all its vices and will guide you to walk with the One who brings life and life more abundantly. 

John 15:13 (NKJV)
13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends.

Today we continue in Anderson & Baumchen’s Finding Hope Again:

Two Depressed People

It is not enough for Christians to merely be aware of the general symptoms of depression. If we want to reach out to those who struggle with depression, we must view them as people, not bundles of symptoms. Describing specific people who exhibit symptoms like the preceding can also help you see yourself in a more objective light.

Matt, a Former Go-Getter

Notice how many of these characteristics became evident in Matt, a 46-year-old man who had a good job in a manufacturing firm. He and his wife, Linda, had raised two children in their nice suburban home. Their younger child was graduating from high school and the older one was in college.

Matt had been a real go-getter; but now he began to feel restless at work and his performance began to drop off. He hated going in to work, and he became irritable and feisty with his coworkers. Finally, his supervisor had to speak to him about his performance and his relationship with fellow workers. Matt just didn't see the problem in the same way. He felt picked on and condemned by his coworkers and his boss. He hated his job, his life and himself. Then one day, out of frustration and disgust with himself, Matt quit his job!

He felt even worse after quitting his job. He had been satisfied with his profession, which had given him a sense of worth and, of course, an income. Now he felt tormented in his mind and wasn't sleeping well. He lost his appetite and didn't want to visit anyone. He even quit studying his Bible, and stopped attending church—activities he had found meaningful and enjoyable. His marriage deteriorated, and relationships were strained with his children. Frequent fights about money and Matt's lack of interest in finding a job made living at home a source of constant irritation. He had no mental peace. His mind was flooded with negative thoughts about himself and life in general.

Matt was experiencing almost every sign of depression; and, as is typical, his problems were affecting every other person in his family. Because there was so much conflict at home, he and his wife sought counseling for their marriage. Their marriage problems, however, couldn't be resolved until Matt dealt with his personal issues.

Fortunately, through counseling, deep repentance and faith in God, Matt was able to overcome his depression by winning the battle in his mind.

King David

In Matt's case, sin was an issue in addition to many unresolved conflicts. His situation was similar to David's depression, described in Psalm 38:3-18:

Because of your wrath there is no health in my body; my bones have no soundness because of my sin. My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear. My wounds fester and are loathsome because of my sinful folly. I am bowed down and brought very low; all day long I go about mourning. My back is filled with searing pain; there is no health in my body. I am feeble and utterly crushed; I groan in anguish of heart. All my longings lie open before you, O Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you. My heart pounds, my strength fails me; even the light has gone from my eyes. My friends and companions avoid me because of my wounds; my neighbors stay far away. Those who seek my life set their traps, those who would harm me talk of my ruin; all day long they plot deception. I am like a deaf man, who cannot hear, like a mute, who cannot open his mouth; I have become like a man who does not hear, whose mouth can offer no reply. I wait for you, O Lord; you will answer, O Lord my God. For I said, "Do not let them gloat or exalt themselves over me when my foot slips." For I am about to fall, and my pain is ever with me. I confess my iniquity; I am troubled by my sin (NIV).

David is depressed, even though he was a man Scripture says had a whole heart for God. David would have identified with most of Matt's symptoms. He describes in graphic detail his physical, spiritual and emotional pain. He even feels that he is near death. David knows that his only hope is God, as he cries out at the end of the psalm, "Come quickly to help me, O Lord my Savior" (Psalm 38:22).

Finding Hope Again: Overcoming Depression.

------------------------------more tomorrow----------------------

God bless you all!




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.