March 20 – Inebriated

It is not for kings, Lemuel— it is not for kings to drink wine, not for rulers to crave beer,  lest they drink and forget what has been decreed, and deprive all the oppressed of their rights. Proverbs 31:4-5 NIV

People have been abusing “strong drink” forever…that’s no new thing. And many a mother has begged her son not to fall prey to the sway of the bubbly brew or the obnoxious concoctions of the bar tender.

Not because they want to steal their fun and prohibit a good time. On the contrary. They have witnessed firsthand how one beer turns into twelve and one margarita lands daddy in jail. It happens.

And although this proverb is written from the perspective of a king leading a nation, my take on it today is every parent, every brother or sister out there is potentially leading their own nation. Whether we like it or not, we are making an impact on those who come after us.

In moderation is the motto of most sound wisdom. But let someone besides yourself make that call for you if you are serious about not falling victim to an alcoholic addiction. Unless mom or wife is struggling with strong drink themselves, they will be your best bet for the brutal truth. Because they want you well and here for the duration.

You and I have an important part to play in this story. But under the influence, we can’t and won’t play to our highest potential.

Lorenzo

October 22 – Living From Hand to Mouth

From the fruit of his words a man shall be satisfied with good, and the work of a man’s hands shall come back to him [as a harvest]. Proverbs 12:14 AMP

Old Zan and I quickly became friends. Every couple of months or so he would come by the church hustling a “few dollars.” Most of the time we would give him enough to stay out of too much trouble and send him on his way.

But one day, I decided to bring him in my office and learn a little bit of his story. I was serving a church in Oklahoma City at the time as an Administrative Pastor and I was located in one of the poorest neighborhoods in town. Zan was one of many recipients who frequented the doors of that church in need of basic food, clothing, and shelter.

What I learned that day changed my perspective on the poor. For all practical purposes, on the surface, Zan appeared pretty needy. But in all actuality, through his disability check and other benefits he received from his military service days, we were clearing about the same amount. That was a wake-up call for sure.

So why was I working at the church while he was begging from the church? Why was my money feeding and clothing seven people at that time and he wasn’t even covering himself? It was because my friend was a broken man on the inside. I don’t know if there were issues before his accident in the service, but in an effort to heal up, addiction to the meds set in and never let him go.

At the time, that was all new to me. But any more, Zan’s story is commonplace. Though he never let me in deep enough to help with the real “monster,” he did hang around long enough to change some of his conversation about himself and his attitude about using his hands constructively…even if he couldn’t do what he used to could do before he got hurt.

In this life, things happen and sometimes they are life-altering and unfortunate. But today’s Proverb assures that if we will find ourselves saying the right things with our mouths, doing the right things with our hands will happen. And we will look up from the ashes and see a harvest of good things all around us.

September 12 – Turkish Delight, and Other Sweet Nothings

The lips of a seductive woman are oh so sweet, her soft words are oh so smooth.  But it won’t be long before she’s gravel in your mouth, a pain in your gut, a wound in your heart. Proverbs 5:3-4 MSG

Any of us may battle some sort of addictive challenge. And though today’s Proverb refers to the “seductive woman,” the picture in view is anything that takes possession of your mind, will, and emotions.

No one is exempt. It may not be alcohol, but it might be anger. It might not be drugs, but it might be greedy gain…never enough. And it might not be pornography, but it might be religion. We all are susceptible to some type of subtle seduction.

In my own life, I have had to shake myself out of a few unconscious comas over the years. And no matter what it was, I first had to see it was a problem for me. Verse 2 of Proverbs 5 talks about exercising discrimination and discretion in order to guard and keep wisdom. Therefore the realization often came when I got tired of the bad taste of something that used to seem so sweet.

At that point, the lion’s share of the battle was won. Then God could spiritually nudge and navigate me step by step to wholeness and health.

All around us is divine destiny calling us to live life “loud” and unencumbered. And all around us there is a devious deception crawling about lusting for just the right moment to steal a piece of freedom from each and every one of us.

If today finds you pushing through the dark clouds of addiction, know that God has not forsaken you, we are all here, and you are not alone. When you are desperate to be done with the deception, say it! Then watch for the way out. . . from within.