Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Alcoholism Cure?

I recently came across an article about a pill that is being dubbed a cure for alcoholism. It is supposed to reduce the craving that an alcoholic feels when he or she wants a drink. The #1 issue I have with this idea is that this pill is creating another dependence in the mind of the alcoholic. Addiction is a very complex disease. It has spiritual, emotional, and physical properties. All of which have to be address to help the addict. If a pill is prescribed to help the alcoholic overcome the cravings, what happens when that pill is discontinued? Do the cravings return? And if so, what steps has the alcoholic taken to address these cravings without popping a pill? Which leads me to the #2 reason why I disagree with it. This pill may in fact decrease the desire to drink, but having to take a pill for the rest of your life so that you won't be an active alcoholic isn't working on the root of the disease itself. The desire to stop has to be there in order for anything to help. In rehab centers, occasionally medication is prescribed to help with the withdrawal symptoms that addicts are facing. This I can understand. What I cannot understand or condone is yet another pill used as a crutch for addiction. Back when the anti-depressant boom started, mental health issues began being treated in doctors offices as frequently as the common cold, and anti-depressants began being prescribed as often as antibiotics. Now it is completely out of control. I believe this will happen with this "alcoholism cure". People will view it as a quick fix and stop doing what it takes to really deal the disease itself. In the article I read about this said, "Dr. Kevin Clark says the traditional model -- based on intensive therapy and the 12 steps popularized by Alcoholics Anonymous -- is still best. It is a disease of the brain, but it's a multifaceted disease. It has a spiritual component, a behavioral component to it...Our experience tells us that having the network of support and recovery is what really makes the difference." I absolutely agree. Therapy will help the addict understand where their disease comes from and why they choose that avenue to cope with their issues. Rehab and 12 step programs help the addict understand how to deal with and overcome their addiction. It isn't until an addict reaches a point of dispair that they are often willing to consider getting help, and even after this point many people still relapse. A pill isn't going to solve this problem. The spiritual component behind addiction is the most important piece. In 12 step programs, steps 2 & 3 encompass this very idea. Step 2 states, "we came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity" and Step 3 states " we made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him". I have absolute faith that anything can be overcome through the power of Christ. Not through a pill, not solely through therapy, not solely through 12 step programs, not solely through the support of friends and family. All of these things are important in the process of recovery (with the exception of the pill), but Christ is the Great Physician and we can do all things through Him who gives us strength.

"To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen."
Jude 1:24-25

Thursday, April 23, 2009

My Greatest Blessing

There are many obvious blessings in my life. My house, my job, food on the table every night, my health, my child, the fact that I could continue with this list is a blessing in and of itself. But the biggest blessing that I have in my life is my husband and yesterday he showed yet again, why I am a very lucky woman. He took the time (44 times actually) to write down the exact time that he thought about me, and more specifically think he's a lucky man for being married to me and brought home a card with each of these times written down...simply to say I love you! It seems a bit of an irony that my husband would consider himself lucky to be married to me, when he was the one who lead me to Christ. As far as I can see, that is the biggest blessing anyone can have in their life. To be married to someone who leads you to Christ, and continues to help you on your walk, to help you grow and become better every single day is a blessing beyond words. Love you babe...

"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."

1 Corinthians 13

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Test for True Authenticity

In the last year, I have come to realize what true authenticity in the church is and is not and how truly unauthentic people in the church can be at times. It has been hugely disappointing and left a bad taste in my mouth. Many churches talk about wanting to have authentic community and being authentic Christians, but it often stops at the discussion point. Being an authentic Christian has to start with placing your full trust in God, and being a trustworthy person. It is demonstrating in your life what Christ has called us to be, and not simply using it as a Bible study or small group discussion. I am not someone who trusts easily. Even if I do begin to show a level of trust, I’ve been known to remain in a state of skepticism waiting for the other shoe of disappointment to drop. I realize this isn’t always the best mindset to be in, and it certainly has caused me personal issues in the past, which is another blog for another time, but it has saved me from being too disappointed in people at times. It is extremely disappointing to me when people who talk about sharing themselves with others, yet stay within their comfort zone and only talk about surface issues. The deeper you are willing to go, the more authentic you are willing to become. Discussing the weather or your job doesn’t help people grow. It doesn’t force you outside of your comfort zone when you fellowship with the same people all of the time. God gave each of us individual gifts and not only does sharing those gifts with other diverse people help them grow; it also helps you. God didn’t intend for us to tread water because when you tread water you don’t move. God’s people are a moving people.

If you have gone to church at any point in your life, you probably realize that there is a wide range of personality types in the church. There are certainly many who are truly authentic, who embrace the idea in every aspect of their lives. However, there are some who are evasive and don’t share with anyone, those who use deceptive means to get information from people, those who smile in your face, yet make you the topic of conversation at prayer groups and Bible studies, those who don’t have much to do with you until the get nosy enough to text or email, and the list goes on. These are all examples of non-authenticity. All of these things are what turn people off from church. I was talking to a fellow Christian sister about authentic Christianity and she made a great point. She said, “Authenticity is shown through being there for someone and showing interest in people all of the time, not just for damage control.” Authentic Christians are what you see is what you get people. There isn’t any hiding behind a smile, there’s not any fear of discussing topics beyond the surface, and they have learned through experience that a transparent life is more valuable to others than to themselves. Now I do believe that some people take the "what you see is what you get” mentality too far. Often being ‘real’ is reduced to simply the desire for others to let you be you. This is a desire that I have had to check in myself before. As a fallen people, accountability isn’t high on most of our priority list. And when we take on an attitude of, "this is me, and if you don't like it too bad, because I'm just being authentic”, we loose the meaning and purpose God intended for us and rely on an excuse to continue on a path that will eventually lead us away from Him. As Christians we should challenge one another to be better, and do so in a loving way. The ‘real’ us is found in following Christ and leading others on that same walk. That is why it is important to use discernment. If you try your best to imitate Christ in your daily walk, then you are on the road to authenticity. Living in the ideal of "take me or leave me", isn't walking the Christian walk, it is walking a selfish walk. The test for true authenticity is when the rubber meets the road and things get uncomfortable, are you still wiling to be transparent, and show some level of discomfort. Because your comfort is found in your relationship with Christ, not in how others view you. Your thoughts?

"If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus." Phillipians 2:1-5

Monday, April 13, 2009

Jesus & The Easter Bunny

My family & I went to a Good Friday service...on Friday...and it was amazing! There was music, singing, and mourning. Mourning for what Christ went through and remembering that we as sinners put him on the cross. There was a cross at the center of the auditorium and we each took turns nailing a red ribbon to the cross in remembrance of what Jesus did that night. It was a powerful moment.

I have never fully realized the meaning of Easter until this year. Easter has become another commercialized production, of which I have fully participated in over the years. My son is now too old to "hunt for eggs", but when he was younger, the adults would play the part of the magical bunny and hide the eggs while he carried his basket full of that plastic filler that seems to show up on the carpet for weeks after the Easter bunny has hopped back to his hole. We'd stuff ourselves with hollow chocolate bunnies, eat massive amounts of ham, buy corsages for grandma, get dressed up in our new pastel colored outfits, and go to church for a message over the resurrection. It was always a nice time to spend with family and have another excuse to buy new clothes and eat a ton, but somewhere along the line the true meaning of Easter got swept up in bunnies and eggs.
Have we allowed the commercialized version of Easter override it's true meaning?
When I was a kid, my parents didn't go to church so my grandmother would come pick me up and take me with her. It definitely didn't have any meaning to me then, because I really only went when she made me, which was usually on holidays. It's tough to get the meaning of anything when you are forced to go and only a few times a year. As I got older and started attending church regularly, it still didn't hold much meaning to me. Sure, I understood Jesus died on the cross for our sins, but I didn't think about the gravity of that sacrifice and certainly didn't apply it to my own life. This year something was different. When I was nailing that red ribbon to the cross, I felt like I was nailing Christ to the cross. I felt a deep sadness and a strange sense of peace knowing that my sins are paid for by His blood. I've never been to a Good Friday service, but it was a moving experience. Easter Sunday is always a joyous, celebratory time at church, whereas Good Friday was actually quite the opposite. It is a time of mourning and remembrance. Most people don't enjoy thinking about the brutality of what really happened. It doesn't exactly give people the "warm and fuzzies" to think about Jesus being flogged, spit upon, beat, and brutally hung upon a cross to die....for no other reason than me & you.
Easter is not bunnies and eggs, Easter is not just cartoon depictions of Christ on a cross, it is a real event that was done for each and every one of us. It is something to be appreciated and remembered. It is certainly something that has taken on an enormous amount of meaning in my life. He has blessed me more that I could have ever imagined, and given me hope in knowing that he won't remember my sins.

You don't have to sell out the Easter bunny to remember what Christ did for you, just remember that while you are enjoying your marshmallow peeps and cadbury eggs, that they wouldn't taste nearly as sweet if it weren't for the sacrifice that Christ made for your sins.

Monday, April 6, 2009

So....I want to write a book

People have told me for a while that I should write a book. My life has played out much like an after-school special. That being said, I want to write a book....I'm just not sure how. It seems like a relatively simple thing to get started doing, but I haven't. I am super critical of anything I write especially when it is personal, which is one reason why I find it difficult to write about my life. So, if any of you readers out there have any suggestions on getting started, it would be appreciated. For now, I'm going to jotting ideas on what should fill the pages of my empty book.