What About Bob?

I received a text yesterday from someone who, for the sake of anonymity, we’ll call Bob. The text read simply, “I’ve lost my way.” The moment I read it I knew what he meant. You see, Bob has had experiences with God and has as we like to say: “Made a profession of faith.” But his whole life has been in again, out again, in again, out again, and now-he’s pretty much “out.”  Shortly after receiving Bob’s text, we talked on the phone. We talked about many things, and I don’t feel like I did a particularly extraordinary job in giving my counsel. So Bob, if you’re reading; this one’s for you. (And all us other “Bobs” out there as well.)

When it comes to having “lost your way,” you are not alone my friend. I have been EXACTLY where you are!! Even now, after walking with Jesus all these years, I still lose my way. There are times in each of our lives when we blow our own minds and freak our own selves out. We look around and ask ourselves, “Where am I, and how did I get here?” Sometimes, it’s nothing we’ve done or haven’t done, it’s just life. The way gets dark and confusing. It happens to all of us. But there is a reason why He’s called the Good Shepherd Bob- He comes to seek us out! He loves you and desires you to be filled up with His love. The mere fact that you reached out to me proves He’s still working, and that you’re not too for gone. This time in your life is one more instance in which He is saying, “I love you Bob. Follow me.” Let Him, bring you to Himself. He wants to.

So, what about the addiction problem. Bob, you know I KNOW.  I can’t count the times in the past when I threw the drugs away, out the window of the car or whatever and then turned right around to find them. And yes, the complexity of addiction encompasses a lot more than I can go into in a single blog article. But I’ll give you the first thing that comes to mind, from one addict to another if you will. Ready? Here goes: the drugs aren’t your problem. The drugs are the way in which “the problem” manifests itself. And like I said, the complexities of addiction are vast, but allow me to TRY and simplify it.  Our lives are made up of things others have done to us and things we’ve done to ourselves, and in some of us the hurts play out in addiction. But Bob, let me tell you, addiction is no match for the love Jesus has for you.

The Holy Spirit can heal you of the hurt and the pain that has lured you into addiction in the first place. I know it has become a “stronghold” in your life, but he can demolish it, along with all the other strongholds. You don’t have to be ashamed. Let the addiction be a reminder in your life that you so desperately need the grace and love of God. And remember, his grace can shine through your weakness. And as He keeps on freeing you, saving you, and LOVING you, you will be used by Him to show others the way. This brings me to the part where we talked about relationships.

Like I said on the phone, I know the Enemy is whispering in your ears, telling you that if you give yourself to Jesus you’ll have to forfeit the relationship you’re in. I know the deceiver is paralyzing you with fear when it come to this issue. You can’t imagine letting go, and perhaps you’ve told God, “I won’t let go.” Well, whether or not it will come to that, I don’t know. But I have observed in my own life that the things I “instinctively protect” and make off limits to God are definitely areas that need addressing. This may sting a little. The Bible calls it idolatry. Again, I don’t know, but I’ll bet that you do. It would seem that we always do. But I do know that whatever giving yourself to Jesus entails, His love will empower you to do it. Know this: this person can’t fill the place in your heart that was created for the Great Romance. That is a fact.

Lastly, you said on the phone that you didn’t know how to “give it all” to God. Well, it’s really not all that complicated. It’s another lie we tell ourselves. Let me ask you, how have you given yourself to addiction? How have you given yourself to your “person”? Think about it, we all know how. And the cool thing is that He will give you the grace and faith and love required to do it!! He is able to do more than you can even imagine. And believe me, I know first-hand how great an imagination you have.

I love you “Bob.” And any faithfulness, loyalty, compassion, gentleness, etc… that you’ve seen in me is only a small reflection of the perfect LOVE He has for you. You will make it. He is working in you RIGHT NOW. Give yourself over to Him. Just say, “Yes.”

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

“Meditations From The Pigpen” (eBook)

Some years ago, a Pastor friend of mine and I got together at a local coffee shop. We hadn’t known each other for long, but there was a real connection. I decided that I would bring my old notebooks, and share with him things I had written over the course of my coming to Jesus. As I read, I could tell he was deeply moved (as I was), and the idea for Pigpen was birthed.

I originally wrote Pigpen by hand, on various types of paper, with the print pretty much all over the place. Duplicating that “style” has proved next to impossible, but in an effort to do so; I have formatted this rendering of Pigpen without strict adherence to any kind of sentence structure, punctuation, paragraph indentation, etc…- pretty much any grammatical rules that apply to the English language. Much of the profanity that was contained in my original hand-written manuscripts has been edited out, but as it was my desire to capture the emotion of my actual experience, strong language is contained in Pigpen’s present form.
Pigpen is a collection of rants, raves, observations, thoughts and prayers that I jotted down over the course of the most trying times in my life. Even today, when I read Pigpen, I am humbled by the realization that the Lord heard the cries of this broken, desperate man. Looking back, I have come to believe that it was all somehow His design, and that He used the “pigpen” for his glory and my ultimate good.

It is my sincere prayer that God will use this little book to somehow minister to the hearts of those who read it. I hope that by opening up my life to you, letting you see the sin, destruction, pain and madness I endured, you will clearly see the beauty of Jesus. He offers healing, forgiveness, and restoration to any who would call upon His name.

(click on image to get your copy)

Alison Phillips, 1934, ticket #2013111810012739

Same Love

 ( When I originally published this I used the wrong title, “One Love.” Perhaps now you’ll “get it.”)

   Hi. My name is Kyle and I’m an addict. I don’t know how it happened, God knows I didn’t choose to be this way, but nevertheless I am. I’ve known it since I was a teenager. I’ve been told that I was born this way, that I was genetically predisposed towards addiction, or perhaps the shame of being sexually abused as a child triggered something in me. What ever the reason – I’m still an addict. Furthermore, despite knowing in my heart that abusing drugs is wrong, I like it. I like getting high. I use to be real militant about it. I explained to people that it was my body to do with what I want. I defended myself by asking others what right they had to judge me, or  impose their sense of morality on me. On my journey to Jesus, I even tried to figure out a way that I could still get high and serve the Lord. And even after falling in love with Jesus, I have still battled addiction. I’ve been to seminary, been a Worship Pastor, preached countless sermons, and still there have been times that I have struggled.

            As I grow in my relationship with Jesus, the question of right and wrong has become less an ifreedom-ola-32799281-500-322ssue as I have realized that the sin of it all lies in the fact that my addiction is toxic to my relationship with him. As I have gotten to know Him, I have come to understand that just because getting high is something I like to do, and may want desperately to justify; it is clearly something He does not want for me. Even now that laws are changing, and certain drugs are being legalized and accepted in the mainstream, I know it is not His will for me. I also know to play the “I was born this way” card is a cop out and in reality an attempt to circumvent what I know in my heart to be true. So what’s a guy to do?

            The fact is that in every relationship there are parameters and expectations. There are also repercussions and consequences. I know there are some things I simply don’t need to do, things that could lead (have led) me into dangerous waters. I don’t refrain from these things out of a sense of duty or fear, but rather love. Getting to know Jesus, experiencing His love, His life and His freedom cause me to want to obey Him.  The fact of the matter is being with Him means more to me than getting high. It’s relationship, not being good that has become my motivation. In the times when temptation has come, His love has kept me. And in the times that I have failed, His love has embraced me. I like what Jesus Himself said, “He who the Son sets free is free indeed.” The implications of those words are staggering- all encompassing FREEDOM!!

            It is my earnest prayer that my “transparency” will help and encourage you no matter what you may struggle with. We don’t have to “redefine,” run and hide, or seek to justify our lives.  We only hurt ourselves when we do that. Instead we can come to Jesus and experience the freedom to truly live and love.