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NOT MY JOB

The names in this story have been changed out of respect for their privacy. Julie W told her family's story in a magazine article.

[My daughter], Allison, came home for the weekend. She opened the door, didn't speak, and dropped her duffel bag. Smudges of mascara circled her eyes. I whispered a "God-please-no" prayer.
"Come tell me about your classes." I patted the sofa. She muttered,
"Gotta take a shower."

As she clomped upstairs, I analyzed the recent changes in her: complaints of not having any money, rarely answers the phone, weight loss, pinpoint pupils, and a "who gives a rip" [facade]. I searched her purse and found a leopard-colored pipe and the unmistakable sweet odor of pot. My heart fluttered wildly like a bird stuck inside my chest.

She plodded down the stairs, hair in a towel, wearing the same wrinkled clothes. Be still and talk in a sweet voice, I told myself. You must convince her to stop. "We need to talk, honey."

"Not now. I'm tired."

"I found your pipe."

She stared at me with death-row eyes. "Chill, it's not that big of a deal."

The tightness in the den suffocated me. I needed air. "Want to walk?" I asked brightly. "Like we used to?"

"Whatever."

I knew I could talk some sense into her. "Honey, please. You've gotta stop." I grabbed her hand.

"Mom!" She jerked away.

"We have a strong family history. You don't want to..."

I never got to finish the sentence. Allison stormed out of the room and within minutes was headed back to college. I knew what I had to do--abandon everything in my life and start to worry/fix/control full-time.

I began spending most days by the phone. I evaluated Allison's reactions, gestures, and comments. Thoughts circled my mind like buzzards: What if she never stops? What if I never see her again? What if she overdoses? Or goes to jail?

I lured Allison into therapy by promising we'd go to an Italian restaurant before visits. Her first appointment day arrived. She played with her spaghetti, and I couldn't eat. "So, what do you plan to say to the counselor?" I asked.

"How should I know?"

When they called her name at the office, I hurried in to make sure the counselor understood. Allison refused to sign for me to have any information. I considered eavesdropping, but too many people were around. An hour later, she walked past me as I paid.

"What'd you talk about?"

"Just stuff."

Our therapy/lunch charade continued that way for a few weeks. Then Allison's sister informed me she was still using. She denied it, refused to see the counselor, dropped out of college, and stopped answering my calls.

I was convinced if I forgot about Allison, even for a second, or enjoyed anything, something bad might happen. Several months later, after another night of little sleep, I glanced in the mirror. I could have passed for the addict: dark circles under hopeless eyes.
I called my friend Linda. Her son, also an addict, had been sentenced to state prison. "You can't imagine all that's going on here," I said.

"Come over for coffee," she urged.

I wanted to stand guard at home but knew she'd listen and understand.

"Hey, girlfriend." Linda hugged me. I didn't touch my coffee as I blurted the saga. Linda didn't sweet-talk. "You need help."
"You haven't heard the whole story," I argued. "I'm fine--my daughter, she needs help."

"You're addicted to worry and control," Linda said. "I've been where you are." She stretched out on the sofa. "The only one you can control is yourself."

The possibility that she might be right terrified me. "It took me years to realize that I'm not in charge. God is," Linda admitted. "By worrying, you're telling God he can't handle things. Go to Al-Anon with me." I'd heard of Al-Anon but didn't see how it applied to me. But I agreed because I was in awe of Linda.

I didn't open my mouth during the meeting. Every word spoken sounded like my own thoughts:

"I worried myself sick about my alcoholic husband."
"My peace comes only when I let go and let God."
Then the speaker said, "To change, you'll have to leave behind some familiar lifelong habits." But how? This is who I am--what I do. "An alcoholic can't drink, and those of us in this room can't allow an ounce of worry. For us, it's every bit as dangerous and addictive. Worry robs our serenity."

I didn't think change was possible. Not for me. But I knew one thing for sure--I was destroying my life. That night at home I got real. "Help me, God. I can't do this without you." I began to ask God for help each morning. I whispered, "Not my job," as worry, fear, or control tried to needle back in.

Two years after that first Al-Anon meeting, Allison and I met for an impromptu lunch. She'd gone back to the same therapist. On her own.
"You can't imagine how easy it is to study when you're not high," she laughed.

"Nope, I guess not." I blinked back happy tears.

"Thanks, Mom."

"For what?"

"When you didn't fix my problems, it scared me. A few times I had to dig change out of the seat of my car for gas money. Some days," she paused, "I didn't have food." My throat felt warm with pride. She'd done it on her own. "I'm making A's. And look," she handed me her checkbook. "I have money again."

Recovery defies logic. It means doing the opposite of what feels natural. When I took care of myself and my addictions, Allison did the same.

Citation: Condensed from our sister publication Today's Christian,© 2008 Christianity Today International Julie W., "Not My Job," Today's Christian (July/August 2008)

Everyone needs a hero. For the mother who told this story it was her friend, Linda. Then she turned to God as her ultimate hero. We all could do with someone to help us work through our troubles. We need a victorious warrior to fight our battles. No one knows that better than God himself.

From Mark Haines' Sermon "Our Mighty God"

 
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Michael Deutsch
 
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HONESTY MATTERS

I read about a high school golfer, Chelsee Richard, of Bloomingdale High School in Brandon, Florida. She lost her chance to win the 2004 state championship — by being honest. In the qualifier for the state finals, Chelsee hit her tee shot on the second hole into the rough. Without knowing it, she played another golfer’s ball out of the rough and finished the hole. On the third hole, she realized what she had done. The rule is that a golfer must declare on that hole, they hit the wrong ball before putting the ball into the hole, or they are disqualified.

Chelsee drew strength from her favorite Bible verse, Philippians 4:13 - "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." She reported her error, a painful ending to her senior season and her dream of going to State. She said: “With my faith and with God, being honest was the most important thing to me, and that’s what is going to advance on throughout my life, being honest and making the right choices." (November, 2004; www.PreachingToday.com)

Her honesty spoke of her Christian faith and the Lord she serves. Honesty is important. The truth really does matter, because it honors Christ. It makes our faith in Jesus more attractive to a world longing for something better than what they have.

 
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Take a look at this next slide. It’s from the opening sequence of Gunsmoke, one of the longest running television shows ever produced. Notice how the street’s full of activity. Well I’ve got news for you. What you think you see in this picture and what you thought you saw on television probably don’t agree with reality. I know, because I saw the set of Gunsmoke up close and personal. They built one not far from where my grandfather lived in Arkansas----and while my family was on vacation visiting my grandparents we went to the set. At first sight as a little guy I thought wow, this is was pretty cool. I’m standing on the main street of Dodge where Marshal Dillion had a lot of gunfights. I wanted to see more than the fronts of the buildings; I wanted to explore the town. I wanted to check out the insides of the buildings. I don’t know why but I almost immediately broke into a run and headed up the stairs that lead to the Doc’s office. I threw open the door and stepped inside. And it’s a good thing they had a small platform with a railing there otherwise I might have plunged head first from that lofty height. What a disappointment. Doc’s office wasn’t there. The jail, Miss Kitty’s, Newly’s gun shop, none of it was there---I mean there were but they weren’t there. The storefronts were there but when you walked through the doors, there was nothing on the other side of them.
[SLIDE]
When in our hearts and minds we make God out to be something which He is not---we can expect disappointment. For example, there are those people who carry with them the belief that God will grant them whatever they ask for if only they have enough faith. In doing so, they’ve erected a false mental image of God---and disappoint awaits them just like it did me on the set of Gunsmoke. You can almost see it coming, can’t you?----the disappointment when God doesn’t give them what they’re asking for. They’re worshiping the right God but doing it the wrong way----and when the anticipated answer doesn’t come along ---these people are destined to be upset with themselves for their lack of faith or they’re going to be mad at God for not meeting their expectations---and maybe both. Worshiping the right God the wrong way---leads to disappointment. And if we’re disappointed enough we may abandon the relationship----and more than anything else, God doesn’t want that to happen.

 
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AWL FOR THE GOOD

In 1809, Simon Renee Braille and his wife Monique welcomed their fourth child into the world-- a lively boy named Louis. They lived in a small stone house near Paris where Braille was the local harness maker. Leather working tools are dangerous, so the toddler had been instructed not to go into his father's shop alone.
But when Louis was still small, he slipped into the shop, and with curiosity started to handle all the fascinating tools. As Louis was inspecting an awl, the sharp tool used to punch holes in leather, he slipped and punctured a part of his eye with the tool. The injured eye became infected. The little boy could not keep his hands from rubbing and scratching the wound, and soon the infection spread to his other eye as well. When Louis was only 4, he became completely blind.
Louis was fortunate enough to study at the Royal Institution for Blind Youth in Paris. He excelled as an organist, and at twelve years old began asking the question “How can the blind read?” Over his summer break at home, Louis was determined to find the answer. As He moved and groped around his father’s shop in search of the right tool for his task, the awl presented itself as perfect for the job. The awl would make the raised dots he had seen in the French military system of “night writing.”
And with the very instrument that had blinded him, Louis worked and worked until he had created a syste...

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Contributed By:
John Sattler
 
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SINS ARE HABITS

I’m reading a book right now called "The Power of Habit" (http://charlesduhigg.com/the-power-of-habit/) about how so much of our daily life is lived by habit. We have to. Our brain needs habits in order for us to be able to function. Just about everything we do is habitual.

How we walk... you don’t have to think about how to move your legs and to lift your foot and bring it forward and to shift your weight. When you’re 2 and learning how to walk, your brain spends a lot of energy training your brain to do that. But now you don’t even think about it... until there is some disability or arthritis or when we trip over something... and then suddenly our brain has to move that thought to our conscious brain.

But if we had to think about every single movement or how we do anything, our brain would be so overwhelmed, we couldn’t get anything done. God designed our brains in a way that most of what we do is done in a small part of the brain that just takes over to free up our conscious brain, that takes more energy.

Try something once (just go with it here). Cross your arms.
Now do it the other way. You have to think about it don’t you?

Almost everything we do, we do by habit... or a series of habits. Walking, talking, eating, driving a car... how you get ready in the morning... and so God designed us this way so that we could function most of the time.

When you get to the top of a set of stairs, your brain already knows what this looks like and so the brain hands it over to the amygdale (part of the brain) to do that hard work of which foot goes first and how the stepping motion works, so that you can focus instead on any surprises that might change the habit, like stuff ON the stairs, that you need to avoid.

It’s a really cool function of the brain to help us handle all the decisions we face constantly everyday.

And if that’s true, then it makes me wonder how much of what we do by instinct and is NOT what God wants us to do, is more from habit than it is a temptation from satan.
Because not only is the good stuff habitual... but so are the things we’d rather change... and it’s why it’s so hard to change our habits...because it has been moved to that part of the brain deep inside that tends to work on instinct instead of consciously.

And so a lot of our sinful behavior isn’t really from satan (per se)... as much as it’s just the habits we have fallen into and developed over time...stuff we have done so much that it is just the way we respond by instinct without a lot of conscious thought going into it.

 
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Thought Control.

What thought? Every thought. The one I have about the Ford Mark One Zephyr that I would like to one day own, the one about how angry I get with repeating a request that someone shuts the door behind them, the thought about how I’d like that last slice of chocolate cake that is for another member of the family, the thought about how I deserve this or that, the thought about the attractive lady who smiles at me in the street, and here’s a biggy the thought about how ‘I earned it, it belongs to me! ‘

You see we all have thoughts we shouldn’t have and the world tells us that it’s OK to have them. Not every thought is worth having, in fact, some are down right hazardous to a person’s health.
Try these on for size:
Ill never be capable of doing that.
Just one, no one will ever know.
Everyone’s out or the kids are in bed, I can watch this programme.
Everyone else does it.
If I just wait around things will come right.
It’s only cheating if I get caught.

We humans, are inclined to do stuff wrong, we think wrong and then act in wrong ways. there is a process of thinking and action. Thought comes before action. If we can capture our thoughts and that’s every thought, even the ones that seem good, but are a bit self seeking and make them obedient to Christ, life is a lot easier.
The loan for the Zephyr, which I would so like, does not have to be paid back, you see in my case it’s a case of idolatry any way, and the Subaru is adequate, and much cheaper to run.
The door situation doesn’t erupt into an argument, because I come up with a suitable deterrent to the door not being shut, and discipline is how the young learn.
The chocolate cake fills the right stomach and I didn’t need it any way, I also don’t need to apologise or loose the extra calories.
I take any thought about the smile and think about the beautiful lady who smiled at me on our wedding day and continues to love me even knowing all my faults not just me at a glance. The gift of God that is our income is recognised as being a gift because God has gifted us with the ability to earn it. This is thinking how Jesus would have us think!
We know what these thoughts are, as we walk in the faith, we pick up the tools of the faith. “Thinking how Jesus would have us think” is one of those tools.
The scriptures and the Holy Spirit aid us to think correctly but we need to know them and respond to them.

 
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SEEKING THE RIGHT KINGDOM

She is filled with bitterness as she speaks to me. Jillian (not her real name) has suffered from a stroke and her tears run freely as she recounts once again her desire to live at home.

Those who have power of Attorney have decided that she is best cared for at Shalom, but she doesn’t want to spend the remaining years of her life in an Aged Care Facility. She doesn’t like the room, the people, the food. She has money, so much money, "thousands of dollars," but it is no good to her now.

She looks at me through tears of sheer frustration as her kingdom is beyond her reach. She is bereft and disinherited, with all her money just lying in the bank. In building a kingdom of outward luxury, she has forgotten the kingdom of her heart, those inward resources that would enable her to give thanks in all circumstances and to experience inward joy no matter what she encounters in life. She kicks against the goads and says "I DON’T WANT TO LIVE LIKE THIS!" I can understand that. I’ve exclaimed these words with the same anguished vehemence, only she is in danger of losing her sanity and even worse, her own soul.

Jesus tells a parable about the Kingdom of Heaven in contrast to the kingdoms we try to build for ourselves on earth in Matthew 13:24. Jillian’s freedom and contentment depends on which kingdom she seeks and no, I am not speaking about suicide, euthanasia or death. Seeking the Kingdom of Heaven has little to do with dying and much to do with experiencing life to the full, here and now.

Sure, heaven, the Kingdom of God, is a LITERAL place, but Jesus said something interesting. He said “The Kingdom of Heaven has come” (Matthew 4:17). In fact we pray that way whenever we pray the Lord’s prayer. "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." We pray that the will and authority of the Kingdom of Heaven will be translated into the everyday things of earth, here and now.

 
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Philip Yancey, in his book "Reaching for the Invisible God" describes the way God get’s blamed for things in this way.
"When Princess Diana died in an automobile accident, a minister was interviewed and was asked the question “How can God allow such a terrible tragedy?” And I loved his response. He said, “Could it have had something to do with a drunk driver going ninety miles an hour in a narrow tunnel? Just How, exactly, was God involved.”
Years ago, boxer, Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini, killed a Korean opponent with a hard right hand to the head. At the press conference after the Korean’s death, Mancini said, “sometimes I wonder why God does the things he does.”
In a letter to Dr. Dobson, a young woman asked this anguished question, “Four years ago, I was dating a man and became pregnant. I was devastated. I asked God, “Why have you allowed this to happen to me?”
Susan Smith, the south Carolina mother a couple years ago who pushed her two sons into a lake to drown and then blamed a fictional car-jacker for the deed, wrote in her confession: “I dropped to the lowest point when I allowed my children to go down that ramp into the water without me. I took off running and screaming, ‘Oh God! Oh God, no! What have I done? Why did you let this happen?”
Now the quest...

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RUBY BRIDGES ON DOING WHAT'S RIGHT

"A federal judge had ordered New Orleans to open its public schools to African-American children, and the white parents decided that if they had to let black children in, they would keep their children out. They let it be known that any black children who came to school would be in for trouble. So the black children stayed home too.

"Except Ruby Bridges. Her parents sent her to school all by herself, six years old.

"Every morning she walked alone through a heckling crowd to an empty school. White people lined up on both sides of the way and shook their fists at her. They threatened to do terrible things to her if she kept coming to their school. But every morning at ten minutes to eight Ruby walked, head up, eyes ahead, straight through the mob; two U.S. marshals walked ahead of her and two walked behind her. Then she spent the day alone with her teachers inside that big silent school building.

"Harvard professor Robert Coles was curious about what went into the making of courageous children like Ruby Bridges. He talked to Ruby's mother and, in his book The Moral Life of Children, tells what she said: 'There's a lot of people who talk about doing good, and a lot of people who argue about what's good and what's not good,' but there are folks who 'just put their lives on the line for what's right'"

(Lewis Smedes, 1001 Quotes, Illustrations and Humorous Stories for Preachers, Teachers, and Writers, 221. From a sermon by Eric Lenhart, Thursday -- "Sleepy Heads" 8/13/2010)

 
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Intro: Illustrate: If You Can’t See the Water Line, It’s ... Time to Unload

When I was a child, my father, on leave from World War II, took my sister and me to the Liverpool dock yards to see the
merchant ships that brought us food.
"Brave men have risked their lives to bring us this precious cargo," he told us. I noticed a line painted around each vessel. "What’s that for?" I asked.
"To show the people loading the ship how much it’s made to carry," he said. "If they put too much on, the line disappears
below the water. The boat will sink. If they put too little inside, it won’t be full enough to do what it was made to do.
Each boat is made by its builder to carry just the right amount."

God has painted a water line in our lives… He will not give too much to bear… but would allow “too much” to cause us to need His help. My children enjoy help bringing in the groceries from the car. They prefer to carry in the candy and cookies…. But at times I would asked (make) them to carry in other items. My youngest of boys reaches for items unaware of the weight and if too heavy… says…, “You do this one daddy.” God allows for “things” to get to heavy for us so we can humble ourselves and say, “You do this one daddy.”

 
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