Archive for December, 2013

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Looking out the window of my flight made me realize how minute my problems were and made me grateful to be able to do the things I can do. There are so many things to be grateful for being in Recovery. Not being ENABLED but being ABLE!

I had a chance to visit my brother and his family out in Nebraska this month. I was able to work and pay for the plane tickets. I was able to stay there for a week and spend quality time with my niece and 5 nephews! My brother and I went out to the shooting range, we cooked a 10 pound rib eye over an open fire, watched movies and played video games with his kids. I am very grateful for being able to do all these things with a clear mind and being able to be a good example of what an uncle is and how an uncle should act.

The other day I had a chance to talk to a man who was asking for money in front of a Starbucks. He was homeless and reeked of alcohol. His mission was to get as much money as he needed for whatever his intentions were. I pulled him aside and told him I was going to give him 20 bucks if he would hear me out first…

I was able to tell him that I was once where he was. That I used to be a drug addict and that I know what it’s like to struggle and be a bottom feeder. I was able to tell him that he doesn’t have to live like this. That it’s never too late to turn his life around; to get help and surround himself with productive people. I was able to tell him that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life. That because of Him, I am able to persevere in His Grace and live a better life. I was able to receive a handshake and a hug from this stranger. I was also able to understand him and not judge him because I was once where he is standing.

I was able to go to my mother’s home for Christmas Eve. I was able to pick up my grandmother and give her a ride to my mother’s and actually show up on time! I was able to spend time with my other brother and his family there and to enjoy great food. I was grateful to be able to give gifts to everyone and grateful not having to show up empty handed because I had to feed an addiction.

I was able to spend time with my dad on Christmas. I was able to make a picture collage of his kids and grandkids all in one frame and able to accept a thank you when he saw it and grateful he enjoyed it. I was able to go see a movie and get some Chinese food with him and have a good time.

These days, I am able to do just about anything. I’m able to have relationships which were once broken. I’m able to help others in need. I’m able to discuss my past and use it to set a good example. I’m able to save money and use it wisely. I’m able to put gas in my truck, to go food shopping and to pay bills. I’m able to live a productive life, a responsible life; a new life from my addictive and destructive past.

Most of all, I am able, and grateful, to be able to trust myself in everything I do and to thank God daily to be under His Grace, to be able to have this freedom. My past is disgusting. It makes me sick when I think of my old lifestyle. The things I used to do, the people I used to hurt, in order to satisfy my addictive obsession and desires.

Being able to do all these things this year strengthens me and makes me extremely grateful for where I am. I am so grateful for a God who forgives and blesses in abundance to someone who does not deserve it, and as small and as little the things I do have, they all feel huge, powerful and meaningful.

I am able to write this, hoping it will help someone to see that when we live life according to the Word of God, we change, we become different people, we yearn to separate ourselves from a life without Him. We need to realize that our addictive nature is not our destined path, that we have it in us to become free from addiction, from ourselves, from our physical and mental anguish, that our mind and soul can rest in the hands of our Savior!

I hope you have a great Christmas with your family and friends. Celebrate and give thanks every day! 😀

We as addicts need to hear this. We like to blow up our war stories and make it sound like we were running a muck, but it isn’t about where we were, it’s about where we are today. In Recovery, we have a new life, our past is put behind us as we move forward. Being authentic and true to ourselves will only benefit us and keep us on a straight path. Yes, we may fall, but we have the One to call upon and lift us back up. And it’s nothing we have done and can take credit for, it’s by His grace we are saved. Being involved in a healthy church, hitting meetings and fellowshipping are all beneficial to a strong, active and flourishing Recovery. Become Free! Become the Difference!

Below is a blog called ‘Authenticity’ by Matt Chewning, Pastor at Netcast Church in Beverly, Ma. You can read the original ‘Authenticity’ blog and also get more information by visiting NetcastChurch.org

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Self-Glory Competition

For as far back as I can remember, I’ve been the most competitive person I know. I hate losing, I hate it more than I love winning. Besides being born a sinner, I also was born into a family where this “competitive trait” drove us all. To this day there’s the constant competition over which family member has the most money, who has the biggest house or what married couple has the most sex; it can get awkward at times. In recent years, the Lord has begun to show me that entering into these conversations can be a form of self-glorification as I attempt to try and convince others that I’m better then I really am.

I’ve recently come to realize that this isn’t just a “Chewning Family” issue, but a massive disease that is spreading throughout evangelicalism. Actually, many of us were trained in self-glorification from the moment of salvation.

My Story

I was raised with no spiritual upbringing at all. My mom is a non-practicing Jew, my dad, a non-practicing Catholic and when I was 4 years old they divorced. My only memory of church growing up was being thrown out of a church basketball game because I kept using offensive language. After High School I was recruited to play basketball at a Christian college and decided to attend even though I knew nothing about Christianity. Within 2 months of being at school, a friend of mine, Ricky Grant, shared the gospel with me off campus and I immediately believed in Jesus and became a Christian.

On September 1, 2000, I walked back to my Christian campus as a new creation, saved by the blood of Jesus and immediately, self-glorification training began. Within hours of having my heart transformed by Jesus, I was told how a Christian should act and look. Christians don’t drink, curse, smoke, doubt, have sex before marriage, listen to Hip-Hop music or hit the clubs. Christians are people who abide by a specific life-style covenant and to disobey this lifestyle was to reveal that you must not actually be a Christian. So here I am, a new believer without a safe environment to authentically wrestle with the broken things that still exist in my heart, while also learning the expertise of self-glorification.

Today, almost 13 years after Jesus saved me, I am still in self-glorification recovery. And the more Christians I interact with the more I see how deeply rooted this sin of self glory actually is.

Being a Professional Disciple

As Christians, we love to over-exaggerate our spiritual walk, we hide the disfunction in our marriages and disguise our pain by quoting verses on joy. Sundays are the worst! We put on our Sunday’s best, grab our bibles, put on our smile, rehearse some big theological terms and head out the door. The only thing is that deep down, we feel like a fake, we have little worship, our marriages are messy and the kids are cute demons. Add to that, you’ve been so well trained in “fake humility and Christian culture”, that nobody knows how dysfunctional your heart is.

Developing Professional Disciples

To make matters worse, disciples are called to make disciples, leaders are called to multiply ourselves and sadly many of us are! We’re developing and deploying masked disciples who are incredible at hiding their sin, saying the right things and having no safe environment to wrestle with personal sin. To even consider it would be a form of weakness that we’re not willing to expose.

So, what’s the answer? If we are called to develop and deploy passionate worshippers of Jesus and be steadfast about developing and deploying passionate worshippers of Jesus, then how do we do this?

As a self-glory addict who is slowing walking through a season of recovery, I have found much hope in Romans 12:9 which tells me “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.” If we are truly going to develop healthy disciples, we have to lead the way in authenticity rooted in the beauty of the gospel.

The Problem

If all of us, “fall short of the Glory of God” and “no one does good, not even one.” If all of us can have an “evil, unbelieving heart, leading us to fall away from the Living God” (Romans 3; Hebrews 3), than why pretend as if we don’t struggle with things like pride, lust, hatred or doubt? If the good news of the gospel is that we are so wicked in comparison to the incredible holiness of God, that our only hope would be that Christ would grant us His righteousness through the cross; than why minimize our need for the gospel by pretending we are more spiritual and godly than we actually are?

The Answer

The answer to this epic problem is the same answer to every epic problem; The Gospel. At some point we have to remember that Jesus is the only answer to the sin of our self-glory. Regardless of your title, training or education; Jesus is the only answer that won’t over-promise and under-deliver. In Jesus we are reminded that we all desperately need the gospel. We’re all sheep and He’s our Chief Shepherd. Other people may not know me, but the reality is that I am fully known by Jesus yet fully loved by Jesus.

My sin and brokenness which seems to weigh so heavily on me are tiny in comparison to the massiveness of His grace. The beauty and freedom of the Gospel is that I see the truth that “my God died for my imperfections, therefore I have no need to pretend to be perfect.”

Praise His Name!!

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My journey starts way before drugs came into the picture. I was raised in a small suburb of Boston by the name of Chelsea, which was once a rich Jewish communtiy that was over ran by drugs, poverty, and crime. I started my journey with goal, aspirations and dreams but soon realized I didnt feel like I fit in and began to change myself into this persona that was widely accepted by the youth of my community. My Christian upbringing now took a back seat to my “Newly created” person.

At first it felt real good because I began to become accepted by people and didnt have any serious consequences. But as my false character grew this persona engulfed me and I became this “Person” and lost myself, God, and family for a very long time. After a very few years of living this life, drugs now came into the picture. At 15 years of age I was now dealing drugs, sniffing cocaine, taking klonopins, smoking weed and drinking. I walked around like I was a drug king pin and honestly at that time my dream turned to becoming this. Fair to say that never happened, I let the drugs control me to point where I landed in a pysch unit in Belmont, MA for cutting my own face with a blade from a broken razor. I spent roughly around a month and somewhat found a little piece of myself but didnt accept that I was an ADDICT.

After returning back to chelsea I put down the heavy drugs but still lived dirty. I sold and smoked weed, and stayed this way for a few years thinking I found a solution. It wasnt until I had a real shot to the heart, that shocked me out of control once again. My brother in law/Best friend died while drinking and driving. God spared me that night because on any given day we were together. We lived together, worked together, rolled together, that was my ace. That night something stopped me from going. After a long grueling process of pulling the plug and saying goodbyes, I buried my brother and a piece of me with him. I would cry alone and away from people so I wouldn’t show any weakness in my character.

Oxycontin now came into the picture and to bury my pain I used and sold excessively. My whole life became OC’s, I needed them for every aspect of my life. They allowed me to NOT FEEL!! ESCAPE!!

The oxycontin boom to me I thought was a gift from God because I felt good, a doctor made it, and I could nod my pain away. I never considered myself an addict, just a person enjoying life. I felt like I desereved this escape. Soon after though, OC’s led to crime and this led to heroin. I never thought I would be a heroin addict, but somehow I rationlized it to that, I wasn’t that bad I only snort. This person I created was so deep into me I couldnt face myself in the mirror.

Heroin ran my life, I stole from everyone and anyone. I didnt care about anyone or anything. I wanted what you had and I would do whatever I had to do to get it.

Through my toils of being a heroin addict, I had a beautiful baby girl named Gianna. I thought that because of her I would change my life, but I merely lied to the mother of my daughter and continued my heroin use in secret. Soon enough my drug use and decietful ways led to the break up of my daughters mother and I and my heroin use spiraled so far, I began using needles. I found myself exiled from my family, homeless, sleeping down Chelsea High Stadium and content because I had dope in my veins.

Around the time of my daughters birth my father had passed away. He also suffered from the disease of addiction. I was so far into my own addiction that it seems like I was absent during the whole grieving period. I wasnt there for my younger brother, my sister, or my mom. My life was consumed by money and drugs; I had no room for anything else. A year after my fathers passing, I attempted on getting clean by the methodone clinic. It got me off of heroin for a little but opened up an area for other drugs.

During my stint on the methodone clinic, I had the most tragic experience of my life. A week before my younger brothers 18th birthday, my brother and I woke up early one morning to find our mother lifeless on the couch. She had passed away around 5 am that morning due to heart failure. I stared into my brothers eyes as he begged me to do something and was crying frantically so I proceeded to due cpr although I could tell she had already passed on. This feeling inside me was a monster, it was overwhelming and I didnt know how to deal with it.

I put a front on to attempt to be the rock in my family but without God my foundation was on sand and just crumbled. I built a resentment towards God and proceeded to using Heroin extensively to the point of overdosing 3 times and homeless numerous times.

These behaviors finally landed me in my very first attempt of getting clean. I had no where to go, no money and was so dope sick that suicide seemed like my only option. I went to the old tewksbury detox, a post detox in Weymouth which finally landed me at The Salvation Army, Saugus, MA. My life began to turn around and I began to accept Jesus. I say it like this because at this point I didnt want to fully accept Christ, I still wanted to do things my way. After four months of wishy washy recovery I was discharged due to the use of Nuerotin/Johnnies because I listened to my addiction and because they were NON-NARCOTIC it was ok. This behavior led me to living in a rooming house known as the Hotel Stanely in Chelsea, working just for my heroin addiction and rent. This cycle continued for 2 years until it cost me my job and eventually my living situation.

They say God works in mysterious ways and that is so true. During my run, I was down Chelsea Square and I seen the Major from The Salvation Army Saugus and he spoke to me and said he was willing to accept me back into the program. Just the fact that he remembered me out of all the addicts that pass through there was a sign to me. It gave me hope. My run continued for a few more weeks but that moment with the Major never left my mind. One night I just prayed my heart out asking God for help, and that I was so tired of just existing in this numb life I had created. The next day things began to turn around. I got a bed in detox and was readmitted to the Salvation Army program in Saugus.

This time around I surrounded myself with positive people, asked for help and opened my entire heart to Jesus Christ. I began to peel my layers off and tell my story at meetings, I’d pray every day and night asking God for guidance and thank him when I made it through. I had counseling for addiction but I also had a spiritual counselor, who to this day I’m very good friends with and I believe she really is an Angel. For once in my life I was knocking my barriers with God and dealing with emotions I buried for so long.

I am now 18 months clean, I have a sponsor, I surround myself with positive sober people, I go to meetings and continue to ask for help because some days are harder than others. The biggest thing for me is helping another addict and never forgetting where I was. Today I can say I make my mother proud!!! And I can help others by being an example. If I can do it, anyone can, you just have to put the work in…

Paul S MacDonald

“Who says a kid from the ghetto can’t change his stripes”

RIP Mom, Dad, my brother Quentin, Christina S., Russell B., My cousin Todd C., and all those that have lost their life to this disease.