AlanGustin Blog2

Fifty-Six & Fighting

Posted in Announcements, life, Spirituality by alangustin on October 28, 2010

Hello to the blogosphere on this day, my fifty-sixth birthday.  As I reflect on days gone by, I savor the blessed feeling that was borne on the wings of thousands of Facebook birthday wishes.  Well… maybe not thousands, but at least hundreds.   Well… I received more than several.

Anyway…   the source of real blessedness, is God.  I am not ashamed to say that.  In fact, I get a deeper blessing from knowing that I need not fear what some person might think of this confession.  Apparently, the older I get, the more I trust that God is with me.  If God is for me, who can be against me.

Practically all those wonderful folks who sent me a birthday message on Facebook are also believers.  This knowledge is like icing on the proverbial feel-good cake, and it’s like I’ve been hugged by a nice, soft, warm, fuzzy, comfy, lover who has engulfed me in appreciation and validation.  From this, I have received the life/love energy to fight on. 

These days are crazy.  It seems as if there is a fight going on in every corner of existence.  But I am empowered by my faith, and ready to step up and punch my way through all the messiness that assaults me from every angle.  And as I fight, I find strength in knowing that my brothers and sisters are with me, going through the storm by my side, encouraging me and lifting me up before the One from whom all blessings flow.

Thank you, God… for my Godly friends!

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There is hope for us after all!

Posted in life, Spirituality by alangustin on September 4, 2010

It’s an awesome thing when you happen upon a young person who is so in love with Jesus that she cannot contain her excitement.

Students like Casey encourage a hope in me that our country will endure these evil days.  That even though there are those in positions of authority that would wipe Jesus from every corner of our society, there are those of us who will honor God and love Jesus nonetheless.  I applaud Casey’s willingness to take a stand for Christ.  Rock on, girl!

Read Casey’s article here

Do We Ever Really Believe?

Posted in life, Spirituality by alangustin on August 31, 2010

I live… I grow.  I hope it is the same for you. 

There was a time when I was going backwards.  I was dying.  Shrinking.  Becoming less of a man.  Less of a person.  The waters that refreshed my soul and caused my eyes to look toward the source of the rain stopped coming.   I couldn’t endure that dry time.  I became crazy, like one deprived of water while walking in the heat of the desert. 

I can only imagine what it must be like to actually go insane from lack of water.  To become so dehydrated that the body stops supplying the mind with what it needs to function normally.  I imagine that the physical aspects of “dying of thirst” must be truly horrific.  But the mental anguish must be just as unbearable.  It must be horrible, enduring the knowledge that with each passing moment, you grow closer to dying, eventually fighting for each labored breath… only to finally give up in an agonizing surrender to the situation that you find yourself in.

The above scenario is a metaphor for a time in my life when I desperately needed love.  I needed the love of Christ so desperately that I would die without it.  But I really didn’t understand any of that.  I was blinded by my thirst.  My self-centeredness erected a solid, black, impenetrable sphere around me which could only be demolished by something supernatural.  But there existed the paradox…

In order for something supernatural to break down the barriers that held me captive, I had to believe in the supernatural. 

I had had a taste of the supernatural when I was a young man of around fifteen years.   I had a supernatural, spiritual experience that affected me deeply, but later became buried under weeks, months and eventually, years of neglect.  After a while I merely dismissed the event, considering that it had been something… unreal.

Faith…

Faith is a fantastic thing.  It is a seemingly unreal thing… 

We drive on a two-lane road, and faith allows us to drive past oncoming cars without fear of a head-on collision.  We believe in the sanity of the person driving the car zooming toward us in the opposite direction.  We believe that person will not suddenly veer into our lane at the last second, killing both of us in an instant of violent impact.

But what information do we have about this person that validates this belief?  Essentially, none.  Unless I am driving on a back country road in an area where I know every single person that drives those same roads, chances are some stranger will come frighteningly close to ending my life. 

This scenario plays out a million times a day throughout the world.  Yet, this ‘act of faith’ is not viewed as anything extraordinary.  It simply fades into the mundane, day-to-day activity of human commuting.  How is it that we can trust so blindly?  How is it that we can trust a total stranger steering twenty-five hundred pounds of speeding iron and steel, coming straight at us as we speed toward them?  The answer lies in the fact that most human beings, operating motorcars on the highways and byways around the world, aren’t irrational lunatics bent on self-destruction.  

Now that requires some faith… especially in today’s world.

The answer also lies in the assumption that each of us have an internal fear of violent death.  I can’t recall the last time I entertained the thought of steering my car into oncoming traffic for the expressed purpose of killing me and my counterpart in the opposite lane.  I can’t remember the last time I got the heebie-jeebies while driving on a two-lane highway with opposing traffic. 

Normal, ordinary people exhibit extraordinary amounts of faith every day.

I claim to have faith.  I claim that I believe I will live forever…  that I will spend eternity with God…  that I am loved in spite of my human tendancy to screw up…  that nothing in this world can make God stop loving me. 

Evidence that backs up these beliefs exists within the lives and stories of millions of people throughout the world who believe the same thing.  The Word of God proclaims the story of our journey of faith in which we are constantly reminded that we are loved.  Yet, do I truly believe it?  These past and present stories present information that I will believe… or simply dismiss as myth.  Which stories do I consider to be myth?   The ones that I have not lived.

What to do?

Should I claim that I believe I am loved by the Creator of the universe?  Or must I simply believe it?  Am I capable of believing it?  Having and maintaining faith in God is extremely difficult for me. 

I have been taught that two plus two equals four.  I can believe this because I can hold two peanuts in one hand, and two peanuts in the other hand, put them together and count four peanuts.  This conditioning makes it impossible for me to believe that two plus two equals three.   If someone said to me, “Two plus two equals three, but you must take my word for it and there is no evidence to prove it.”  …I would not believe it.

We all want to believe that Jesus rose from the grave.   We all want to believe that we too, can experience the resurrection of Christ.  Or that if we’re good enough in this life, we won’t be reincarnated as a snail, or that we will advance to the next plane of consciousness  …that we won’t really die. 

But we hear of people dying all the time.  Train wrecks, airplane crashes, cancer, murder, the list goes on.  We hear about it in the news.  We experience it when a loved one dies of old age or disease.   We know that death is real.  We see the evidence of death all too often.  But we never see the evidence of life after death.  Oh sure, there are those sporadic stories of people who claim to have had a near-death experience, or an out-of-body experience in which they see a white light and are drawn to it only to be yanked back into their earthly bodies at the last second.  These people may be true believers in the afterlife, but their experience doesn’t help me to believe.  It was their experience, and they have their evidence, but it’s not proof enough for me.

Do we ever really believe… anything?

The supernatural is hard to deny, especially when it’s in your face.  The face of the supernatural got in my face more than once, and I remember those faces from time to time,  [STOP]

okay… I’m really trying to be serious here, but it’s late at night, and Red Eye is on the Fox News Channel.  It’s the Monday after the Glen Beck “Restore Honor Rally”, and I just can’t keep a straight face tonight.  I’ll try again later…

[okay… I’m back]

Without humor, this would be an unbearable life.  The ability to laugh at ourselves is as important as any serious conversation we can have with ourselves. 

What’s really funny to me, is how arrogant we humans can be regarding the things of God.  We claim to know God… we dissect God… we tell others what God is saying to them… we write, we read, we plan, we build… with the belief that God is directing it all.

Many of us fall all over ourselves in an attempt to show others that we have God figured out.  That we have an inside track into the heart and mind of the same being who created the universe and everything in it. 

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained, What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him?”  (Psalm 8:3,4)

Scientists estimate that their are approximately 100 billion trillion stars in the known universe.  That means that there are more stars in the known universe than there are grains of sand on the entire earth.  (They estimate that there are approximately 1 billion trillion grains of sand.)  Yet God holds the universe in the palm of His hand and, according to Psalms 147, “He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name.” 

I have read books about God.  Some of them, so full of intellectualism that they travel down the road of philosophy that the Bible warns against.  Others so simple in their message of grace that they fail to mention anything about our need to obey God.  None of these readings really improved my ability to have a relationship with Christ, the Son of God.  What does improve my ability to have a relationship with him is simply living life.  We live, we grow.  The nature of God is revealed in the everyday – in the simple and in the supernatural.

Supernatural?

Several paragraphs ago, I mentioned the face of the supernatural, and how I’ve seen that face a time or two (actually more than just a time or two).  God has supernaturally saved my life so many times, I lost count. 

Back when I was going backwards, dying, shrinking, becoming less of a man, I was bent on self-destruction.  I had turned to drugs and alcohol in an attempt to escape a life that I wrongly assumed I could not face sober.  I won’t go into the circumstances of how I was introduced to substance abuse here, but I might choose to write about that in another post.

Over the years that I lived that lifestyle, I was exposed to people who were extremely dangerous.  I walked into situations that were extremely dangerous.  I intentionally placed myself into dangerous situations to show-off, or make someone laugh.  In all of these situations, I was protected… supernaturally.  I avoided harm – in some cases – unbelievably.

I remember one night long ago in California when this supernatural protection was very evident.  My friends and I had finished a night of heavy drinking at the Rainbow Club on the Sunset Strip in L.A.  All of us were drunk, but I was pissing-my-pants drunk.  As we arrived at the parking lot, for some stupid reason, I decided that I would climb up on the roof of the car, hang onto the lip of the roof on either side, and ride all the way home to North Hollywood.  This was a distance of about thirty miles, and involved traveling on the 101 freeway.  We made it home without being pulled over by the police, and without anyone getting hurt.  

This is but one example of a man, wh0 couldn’t understand his self-loathing, who was trying his best to call out for help by drawing attention to himself. 

The help he needed was there all along.

I have been in a battle ever since I became a believer.  All of us who choose the way of Christ enter into a war.  Name your battlefield… addiction, selfishness, resentment, sexual immorality.  Too many to list.  But if you’ve become a believer,  and have truly tasted the awareness that comes with the knowledge and understanding of grace, then you welcome the fight.  You recognize the ordeal is not limited to what you can do, but to what Christ in you can do!

To be continued…

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Can We Ever Really Understand?

Posted in Church, life, Spirituality by alangustin on February 17, 2010

 

Ponder this…

“At the last judgment Christ will say to us, “Come, you also!  Come, drunkards!  Come weaklings!  Come, children of shame!” And he will say to us: “Vile beings, you who are in the image of the beast and bear his mark, but come all the same, you as well.”  And the wise and prudent will say, “Lord, why do you welcome them?” And he will say: “If I welcome them, you wise men, if I welcome them, you prudent men, it is because not one of them has ever been judged worthy.” And he will stretch out his arms, and we will fall at his feet, and we will cry out sobbing, and then we will understand all, we will understand the Gospel of grace!  Lord, your Kingdom come!”

Over the many years that I have tried to understand God’s love, all the while knowing in my heart that it simply could not be that a loving God would shut out those of us who are imperfect, those of us who seem to never make the grade, or conquer our demons; this passage by Dostoyevsky is a life-renewing, soul-quenching, love drink.

The passage is quoted by Brennan Manning in his book, “The Ragamuffin Gospel”.  The passage is quoted early on, and states – what I consider to be – the main theme of the book.  As someone who often considers my humanity to be a curse, something to be overcome or beaten into submission, I now feel as if I have been truly set free.  Free to sin?  Heck, no… although I am still a seasoned sinner.  But free to shed the chains of guilt and shame that accompany a version of Christianity that places me under the thumb of a harsh, strict, judgmental God.

Oh, how I long for a complete understanding of God’s love for me.  I believe I am now closer to that understanding.

Do any of you feel the same way?

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Back at it!?!?!?

Posted in Church, Spirituality by alangustin on August 18, 2009

Well, it would seem that my season of contemplation has turned into a season of liberation. I have been set free! Actually, I just needed some time to remember that.

Being human is such a wonderfully silly experience sometimes. Especially if you’re me. But since you aren’t, you’ll just have to take my word for it.

I am prone to forgetfullness. My wife, Valerie will testify to this fact anytime, anywhere. I forget what day it is; I forget where I put my keys; I forget appointments… let’s see… what was I talking about? Oh yeah… things I forget!

I forget a lot of things that may seem trivial or unimportant. I always find my keys… eventually. Val always reminds me of the appointments I’ve made – or what day it is. Most of the things I forget are eventually remembered, and life goes on just fine.

Life is not just fine though, when I forget one thing: I am free. Free to live a life without fear.

I have to admit that recent events have caused me to forget the fact that God is faithful. Even in the midst of very tough circumstances, God is good. We humans – even we followers of Jesus – sometimes forget that there is an eternal aspect to life.

Many families are facing very trying times right now, and my family is no exception. Both Val and I have lost our full-time jobs. Jobs that we took as part of a relocation across the country. Often we wonder how we are going to make it. Soon fear sets in, and we let it control us.

“Fear not, for I am with you, says the Lord”

I sing the song “Fear Not” often at the Christ-centered treatment center where I present music for chapel services. But as much as I’d like the message of that song to sink in with the residents, I sometimes have a problem taking that message to heart myself. And I don’t believe that I’m the only Christian who has a problem with fully trusting God in all things. But lately, I have learned how to give up more control to God, and trust that He will take care of my family.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

There is true freedom in the belief that God “knows the plans” that He has for us. Plans not to destroy us, but to bring prosperity into our lives. Of course, this ‘prosperity’ most times doesn’t just fall into our laps, does it? No, we must do our part. My part is — at the very least — to have faith.

Often times, faith is all we have to get us through. I remember a Lou Reed song titled, “Busload of Faith”, in which he sings, “…one thing you can depend on honey – sometimes you need a busload of faith to get by.”

Of course, Lou Reed’s song was a statement against God and the ultra-religious, and I laugh when reading the lyrics to his song where he states that you can’t depend on God or Godly people, yet you need a busload of faith to get by. Faith in what, Lou?… Luck?… Yourself?… What is it that we can have faith in other than God?

Lately I feel as if God is singing that to me; “You need a busload of faith to get by.”

And as I think about how little faith I have sometimes, I am reminded of the blessings in my life. God has provided much. If it weren’t for His divine intervention, I would be in the grave instead of looking for things to complain about. So my very life is a blessing. I have a wonderful wife and two beautiful and healthy kids; we’ve got a roof over our heads and food on the table; I have loving parents who are still reasonably healthy; we have a caring church community who loves and supports us.

It’s in times of stress when I seem to forget all that. It’s during the really tough times when my mind gravitates toward grumbling and complaining rather than praise and thanksgiving. Am I abnormal? Hardly. Our immediate circumstances often act as a wall that blocks the knowledge that we are loved and free — free from the fears and worries of this life and hopeful that there is a better life ahead.

So I will shake off the dust of discouragement and step into a new season of growth. And I will get on board that bus when it pulls up to the curb and beckons me with the sign that reads “Destination: Faith” — remembering that sometimes it takes a busload of faith to get by.

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Pulling Back…

Posted in Spirituality by alangustin on June 1, 2009

ContemplativeSeasons change. Seasons change us. In our attempt to fill every waking moment with busy-ness — work, accomplishments, hobbies, ministry, relationships, etc. — we moderns seldom take time to just be. What is it about an earlier time in my life that causes my soul to ache for those days? I think it is remembering the way in which, as a very young man, I was able to enjoy moments of stillness while laying in a field of tall grass, gazing up at the clouds as they slowly made thier way accross the deep-blue, summer sky. Or sitting on the bank of a still pond, watching the waterbugs skating around on the surface of the pond in a seemingly chaotic motion that would hypnotize me for what seemed like hours. I remember those moments because I believe that, even though I was not a believer back then, God was revealing His creation to me in a subtle way — kind of like tiny, wind-borne seeds of revelation, randomly dropping onto the ground for no particular purpose other than to simply sprout and live.

You say, “Well if they are seeds of the revelation of God’s creation, then they should sprout, grow, and take up permanent residence in your heart with roots that go so deep they can never be pulled up!”

Maybe so. But I believe that we are ever-changing. God may be never-changing, but we are ever-changing, otherwise we are stagnant, or even dead. And so, I believe that as we progress though life, God sows seeds of fresh revelation in us from time to time. I believe today that I have been, and will continue to be, affected by these refreshing moments, and I can only pray that I can remember the ones that came previously, and reap the cumulative effect produced by all of them.

The most recent seed from God that has sprouted in my heart is called, “be still”. Though this seed has fallen on me before, it never found fertile soil to sprout in until now. God’s timing is constantly blowing my mind, and the confluence of circumstances that has caused fertile soil to rise to the surface — allowing this particular seed of revelation to germinate — is as much a mystery to me as is much of the rest of God.

As this little sprout continues to strive for permanence in my being, I will put some things on the shelf. I must set aside some of my own agenda items that I previously considered important. I will be “de-programming” my busy mind, allowing it to unwind and relax. My blog may sit idle for even longer periods of time without a post. That music CD I want to release this summer may have to wait until next summer. My forays into the realms of web development may have to go on a semi-permanent hiatus. All that stuff that gives me a false sense of significance needs to go away for awhile so that I can simply be. I want to be with my family. I want to be with God. I want to be free of uneccessary accoutrements that exist only to complicate things and muddy-up the waters of my life.

I believe I’m entering a season of contemplation. I believe God wants to speak to me but I’m now simply too “busy” to listen. I long to hear God say, “Al, I want you to do this“, believing that it’s really His voice I’m hearing and not just some imagined, psuedo-God-voice created from my own self. Those little nitches that contain tedious, disorganized, random thoughts and activities have got to go, so that what is left is only a blank, clean slate on which God can write His note to me.

Will I be able to truly “pull back” and simplify my life without going crazy? Only time will tell. If you notice that my blog entries come more frequently in the next few weeks or months, you’ll know that I have failed.

Time to pray…

Bad case of the ‘tireds’

Posted in Spirituality by alangustin on May 2, 2009

tired1

So I’m getting old. I can accept that. No longer do I have that youthful energy that used to exist in unlimited supply. It’s all part of the natural aging process, yes? But lately I seem to be suffering from a new level of fatigue and I don’t like it at all. I find it difficult to get motivated to do anything these days (probably you’ve noticed that there have been very few posts to this blog lately). What can be causing this recent tiredness?

Here’s the sad part of the story. I know exactly what the causes are. They are numerous, and each cause contributes to the “whole tired”. I write this post in an attempt at ‘confession and repentance’. To lay it out there for all to see (that is, the few who might actually read this bog) in the hope that it may sink in and take up residence in my fog-and-cobweb-infested brain. It used to be that I could boost my energy by drinking obscene amounts of coffee. But I believe I have become immune to the effects of caffeine through my careless abuse, and now I cannot reap the benefits of this, my favorite God-given beverage. Anyway, here’s the list of causes I’m aware of…

First and foremost is my lack of excercise. I have become sedentary. Ever since I got out of the construction trades, my body has been slowly sinking into a glob of flabby, useless flesh. My left hand is in the best shape, due to the guitar playing that I do every day. In my mind’s eye, I am like a mutant,crab with one strong, healthy, well-developed hand connected to this soft, pale, mushy, body. I imagine myself as a Fiddler Crab, with one giant claw leading the way for the rest of my puny body. I’ve got an olympic weight set and nice treadmill in the basement. There’s no reason for me to be in this shape.

Second, and almost as important, is my diet. I believe I’m turning into a quarter-pounder with cheese. My midsection actually resembles the shape of a quarter-pounder. Not just ‘love-handles’ anymore — this is full-blown spare tire. Don’t get me wrong… I don’t actually live on quarter-pounders, but I do eat a lot of fast-food. Sometimes I try to rationalize my fast-food intake by occasionally switching to a chicken sandwich instead of the greasy, beef burgers, but there’s always the fries that accompany the sandwich, no matter which variety of meat is in it.

It’s a fast-paced life thing. I actually love to cook. I love crisp, lightly-steamed fresh vegetables, fish, chicken, salads, etc. I just can’t seem to find time to prepare and cook food like that these days. Actually, I do have the time, I’m really just too stinkin’ lazy to do it. There’s no market nearby, and a trip to the closest market takes about forty minutes there and back, including shopping time. Then there’s the cleanup. Who the heck wants to destroy a perfectly neat kitchen by cooking a meal, only to end up having to clean up the mess that was created in the process? Talk about an anti-climax. Cook a nice healthy meal, then instead of just kicking back after enjoying it, you gotta get up, wash the dishes and clean the kitchen. Humbug.

Third, and not the least of these is my bouts with depression. I had a major episode back in 1996, and was “institutionalized” for it. Substance abuse played a role but nonetheless, I was diagnosed as having depression. Anti-depressant drugs for a year, then weaned off under the supervision of my shrink. Counseling and a watchful eye by my friends and family confirmed that I no longer needed the drugs. My walk with Christ has played a major role in my ability to overcome depression, and for the most part, I enjoy life and I possess the “peace that passes all understanding”.

The economy is enough to send anyone into a “I-just-don’t-give-a-crap-about-anything!” mode, and the successful takeover of America by a bunch of incompetent elitists only adds to my misery. And I believe I’m not the only one who is sick and tired of the political war that’s being waged on the Democrats by those who think they have lost control of their country, simply because the Democratic candidate won the last election. As sickening as the situation is, it only seems to get worse every day. Who can keep from being a little depressed?

So now that I’ve got an idea of why I’m feeling so tired, what am I gonna do about it?

Goodness, gracious…

Posted in Spirituality by alangustin on April 11, 2009
Grace offered

Grace offered

My wife made me feel really good this morning. She told me about how she went to Starbucks for coffee yesterday, and when the sales associate told her the total amount due, Val knew it was less than it should have been. Val asked the drive-through attendant if the amount was correct, and the attendant said, “Yes, that’s correct”. So Val paid the amount, knowing that she had just paid less than was really due.

On her way out of Starbucks, Val came upon a couple standing on a corner holding a “Homeless” sign. She decided to give them some money, even though normally she doesn’t. The reason she doesn’t is because it’s been found that many times these folks are begging for money just to buy alcohol or drugs. But she told me that she heard God’s “still, small voice” tell her to help these people. So she did.

Val told me that since she got a blessing from Starbucks, she felt as if she should pass that on to this needy couple. That is really cool, but I believe that she would have given to that couple even if she hadn’t gotten her “unintentional discount” from Starbucks, because she had received a prompting from the Spirit of God. Does the fact that Val gave a few bucks to a homeless couple turn her into a Mother Theresa? Hardly. But it was a random act of kindness that is recognized by God as good, and I believe it made God smile.

I can just hear some people saying, “Oh, listen to this so-called ‘do-gooder’ – bragging about how she “helped” these people by giving them a few bucks. I bet it made her feel so good about herself… blah, blah, blah.”

To people like that I say, “Bite me!”

In the movie “Evan Almighty”, the God character – played by Morgan Freeman, told Evan, “How do we change the world? – One act of kindness at a time.”

It makes my heart sing, knowing that God is speaking to my wife. My prayer is that all of us would start listening more intently for “that still, small voice”.

Jesus Messiah

Posted in Spirituality by alangustin on April 11, 2009

Being Blessed While Blessing

Posted in Spirituality by alangustin on April 10, 2009

Taken from Al’s Other Blog

Wow! I was so uplifted this morning during praise and worship time. Wait… praise and worship time? It’s Friday, right?

Yes, but I get to present praise and worship music Monday through Friday at the treatment center, then worship-leading at my church on Sunday morning, then again on Sunday afternoon back at the treatment center. Many might say, “Whoa, don’t you get burned-out?”

Sometimes it’s hard to get motivated to sing praise songs at 8:00 AM, but when we get going, all those thoughts of stress and strife fade away in the blessed cacophony of praise. I am often blessed when the patients and their family members thank me for the music that I present at chapels at the treatment center, but mostly I am blessed to be in the midst of the zealous praise that comes from the ladies there. I have a notion that the praise is so intense at these chapel services because these ladies (and their families) are in such desperate need of God’s healing presence in their lives. They are in a place in their lives where making drastic changes in the way they live is paramount. They have come to a place of desperation and they need God’s help to get them through. Fortunately, they are at a Christ-centered treatment center where the Spiritual component is as important as the psychological aspect of their treatment plan. What a blessing to have the opportunity to work at a place such as this!

Fridays are all-music services, meaning that no-one comes to speak. Every other day, I present five praise and worship songs, then someone comes and speaks to the ladies about some spiritual topic. Sometimes it’s a local pastor, sometimes it’s a member of the staff at the center. At any rate, Fridays are special, since I have an opportunity to offer more praise and worship music. I also give the ladies and their visiting family members an opportunity to share what God has done during their time at “family week”. Today, a young lady shared scripture from the Psalms that helped her find strength and hope. She shared that she struggled with substance abuse, along with her eating disorder, and that she finally found something in the Bible that referred to the dangers of abusing alcohol. That opened a door of opportunity for me to share about my struggles with drugs and alcohol, and to share whith them about the hope that I have found in God; the strength I find in Him; and how amazingly powerful God’s grace is when we consider how impactful it is when we accept it.

When we are involved in an activity that brings glory to God and magnifies Christ, we are blessed. In the midst of troubling times, we can be blessed. When we recognize the majesty and holiness of our Lord, we grow to learn that we live every day by God’s grace. Life is a gift from God. I get to see, and participate in some small way in the lives of people who are recovering from diseases of the soul. it blesses my heart to be used by God in this way. Thank You, Lord!