Article in the Kingston Daily Freeman

Imagine this headline in a secular paper in New York: Tillson author parents with help from God. Well it's true! Read it on-line and support these kinds of articles with a comment.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Surrendering All

Ben’s Story
When I was about fourteen, I started smoking pot and drinking. It started out as very occasional use to experiment with and be accepted by my peers. Then, it turned into a habit that hooked me. I started drinking more when I was twenty-one and using some coke. At first I said I would never buy the stuff and only let people give it to me. As with the marijuana, the coke use started slowly, but over a few years it grew into a full blown habit. It messed up my life really badly. I lived the street life when I knew I didn’t have to be living like that.

When I was going to college in Florida, I left my apartment to go live in a gang house where there were shootings, and I slept on the floor with roaches crawling all over me. In the worst of my addiction, I was at the mercy of drug dealers to drive them around for my next fix. I still continued to believe Satan’s lie that sin was better than God’s goodness.

Coke opened the door for crack. Even during my coke use, I thought I would never use crack because it’s “seriously dirty.” I left the door ajar for Satan though, and crack crept in. There was a girl in my apartment complex who wanted to use crack at my place, and I was hesitant at first. I then let her. After being down on coke one day, she said I should use her crack, and I did. I got hooked on that too. As marijuana did a few years earlier, it caused me to have to leave college. I knew I needed to leave the situation in Florida so I moved back to New York and got clean for a while. Though, I didn’t truly want to leave the life that embraced sin. I went to the bars and rationalized that drinking a few beers was okay, and I got involved with a girl immorally.

I continued to leave the door open for Satan while still “knowing” the Truth of Christ. But I had never committed to living my whole life under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. After breaking up with the girl, I used crack again for a while and finally after years of my mom praying for me and wanting me to go to rehab, I submitted to her and went to Transformation Life Center. It was the best decision I’ve ever made in my life—seriously. I finally committed to surrender my life to Jesus Christ. 

Through TLC, God gave me the opportunity to actually live life again. Before TLC I was paranoid and oppressed by Satan and his demons. When the Bible mentions witchcraft in Galatians 5:19 as one of the obvious acts of the sinful nature, the Greek word used is pharmakea, from which we get our word pharmacy. I looked it up in a Bible dictionary, and it said the meaning of pharmakea was the magic arts and the use of drugs. Using drugs (even and especially marijuana), brings you into a realm of satanic influence.

Galatians 5:20 also mentions drunkenness as being sin. I needed to realize that because I have struggled with addiction, I can’t rationalize as I did before. I was wrong to think that drinking a beer or two would be okay, and that it wouldn’t lead me into the temptation to get drunk. Sometimes even though I didn’t feel drunk, I was.

What I failed to do before TLC is focus on the goodness of the Lord and on His presence. In Hebrews 12 the writer tells us to “fix our eyes on Jesus Christ the author and perfector of our faith.” I grew up in a Christian home and knew the Lord before TLC, but never fully surrendered my life to Him. The Creator who wrote my genetic code is more than worthy of my obedience.

The Lord has delivered me from addiction and so much more—from Satan’s bondage and from the bondage of sin and death. Today I am free in Christ as I live in repentance and have true peace and joy. That’s more than a fact. It’s a miracle. God convicted me. “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46 ESV)

I have been out of TLC for a while now, and the Lord continues to work in my life in a mighty way. I need to keep my focus on God and reject sin and temptation. God awaits us with open arms. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” In Romans 6 Paul tells us that His grace, though, is not a license for us to sin.

God’s goodness is truly so much better than anything else. Our minds can’t always fathom that, but we can know that it is true. God instructs us to live a life that is built on the rock following Him, not on the sand living for our lusts and evil desires. He instructs us to repent in Mark 1:15. This means to humble ourselves before the Lord, and turn from sin to live for Him.

I’ve gotten involved with my church, Bible studies, and Campus Crusade for Christ. It’s been a lot of fun, and it is necessary to be rooted in Christ with brothers and sisters in the Lord (Hebrews 10:25). I also continue to go to TLC every Thursday night and it’s an awesome experience that truly helps my walk with the Lord.

It takes discipline and a focus on God to live for Him. It’s the life He wants for everybody, and it’s the only right way. In John 14:6 Jesus says, “I am the way the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father except through me.” John 1:3 says of Jesus, “All things were made through Him. Without Him nothing was made.” It’s only by the power of the Holy Spirit that I can live for God. I’m so thankful for the powerful, cleansing blood of Jesus Christ, and that He has brought me out of darkness into His Way—the Truth.
(You can visit Tranformation  Life Center on-line)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

I Did it Again

Guest post by Denise Morales

I did it again! I know I shouldn't have done it. I though I was over it. I have come so far and yet I felt so discouraged. I felt a failure. I hit a road block--a brick wall. My daughter needs a car and help purchasin one and I have such little money. In spite of my efforts to save: clipping coupons,  no credit card bills, and bargain hunting. Still, the savings account is still insuffieient.

If I were a recovering alcoholic, I would have a drink; if I were a drug addict, I might relapse, but I am neither of these--my sin of choice is--overeating! To descibe myself as a glutton seems fooolish. Sure I'm about ten lbs. overweight, maybe even fifteen, and after tongiht, well, maybe even more. Obesity is not the only sign of gluttony. There are some overeaters who lapse and have little weight gain.

It's almost 2 a.m. and I have heartburn. My teeth feel like they are sugar coated. I was using food to alleviate my frustration. It is a poor substitute. I feel childish and ashamed. At 56, I should have known better. What was I looking for in everything I ate: the death by chocolate, the low fat crackers, the bag of popcorn, the pizza, the bag of ornage slice and gumdrops, which did me in!

I couldn't find what I was looking for in these. I felt like garbage--my sugar rush kicked me in the stomach. I was a bad role model to my two children, teen girls no less.Oh I took full resonsiibility for all those wasted caloires and stored them instead of vomitting them, but it still doesn't justify any of it.

So what did I do? First I recognized it as sin--inspite of the reasons for doing it. I put garbage in God's temple which is obvious enough. However, my greatest weakness was to give in to discouragement . I did not trust God to provide. I cried today as I looked at my eighteen year old daughter through a dirty window working in a used clothing store to pay for her college books. It is sad that she has to work her way though community college with the brains she has. Yet, I was happy that she was a hard worker, a smart girl who was not afraid to work for a living. I only wish I could have helped her--but I ate instead.

I had to trust God to meet her needs, whether she sees His hand at work or not. I had to trust Him to be her provider. I had to expect God to do for her what I could not do. All the food I consumed did nothing but show me my lack of trust and faith! One of his names is Jehovah Jirah, my provider. He will provide everything I need. I'm running into His loving arms and asking for forgiveness and help to trust Him more each day.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

No More Destruction: Mike’s Story

This is a story from the Book Transformed--Inspiring Stories of Freedom that illustrates the power of God to change lives!

I grew up in Lodi, New Jersey with a good family. I was an only child and spoiled with affection. Though my parents were divorced when I was seven, I had a good relationship with them. I didn’t have an absent father, but he wasn’t present emotionally, even though he does love me. I started smoking weed when I was fourteen because I was looking for something else, something spiritual to view the world differently. I didn’t experiment with any other drugs in high school.

I went to church up until I was seventeen, but once I got my car, I stopped attending church. After graduating from high school, I went to college for a year and worked at a pharmacy and started using oxycontin. That’s how it all started. I did that for a year and then graduated from there to heroin.  It’s been a downhill ride ever since.

I had to keep hitting lower and lower bottoms. Every time I hit bottom, I continued with drugs because I thought I could find a successful way of using. It became my idol.  I worshipped it in what I did, through my actions, and what I thought. I became homeless and was living in a cardboard box over the summer of 2005. I was still getting high. I had a girlfriend who was using also, and she enabled me. I had the bare minimum to survive, and that was all that mattered. 

In the summer of 2007, I got clean from heroin and lived at home. Ever since then, up until summer of 2008, I’d cycle on and off drugs—using for a couple of months and then getting clean. I had a year clean from heroin, and then I relapsed again in June of 2008. I realized I needed a long term residential program.

I had done twenty-eight day programs, hospitals, countless detoxes, Narcotics Anonymous meetings—nothing worked because I didn’t participate. As soon as the meeting was over, I bounced. NA’s focus is on physical sobriety, but there are many types of addictions that keep us in bondage, such as an addiction to sex. I needed more than what NA offered.

I heard about Transformation Life Center from my mother’s nephew who graduated from this program, and she told me about it. At first I didn’t want to go, six months was too much time. But after having burned so many bridges—quitting my job and dropping out of school, I had nothing else to do. I actually quit work and school on purpose so I wouldn’t have any other options because I knew what the results would be if I continued to use heroin. I went through it enough times to know what happens. I wanted to back myself into a corner. I was at home for two months waiting to get into TLC.  I wasn’t getting high, but I was on a medication they give you at detox. It was easy to be home, but I knew I needed to go to a program.

Finally, I got into the program, and I knew the struggle would begin. I went through a month of physical withdrawals. It was very uncomfortable the first couple of weeks. The first two months I was here, I was convinced I would only do three months. I didn’t have any big breakthroughs. I already knew God because of the shelters I went to before. I started to know Him there. But then when I got here, I was trying to give myself the best chance of really recovering. I decided to stay so I could break the habit of not completing what I start. There were times I considered leaving, but I stayed because after all these years I understood myself—when I most wanted to leave is when I most needed to stay.

Here at TLC, I’ve learned to submit. I use to blow up when I was told to do something, but little by little I’ve learned to submit. I’ve used this as a real world exercise. There will be people in the world I don’t get along with, so I’m trying to endure this. I really understand that ultimately God’s in control. I’m trying to do what’s right, as far as I understand it.

I’ve been here eight months and I’m in the second phase of the program as a Resident Assistant. I thought the RA program would be something very different than what it’s turned out to be. I thought I was going to have a lot more time for myself and going home. Because of this, it’s taught me patience. Sometimes things don’t seem fair; I feel entitled to something better. But during these two months, I’ve been stretched a lot. I feel I’ve grown, especially after this one incident.

One Friday I was suppose to go home, but I hadn’t handed in my homework. I was told I couldn’t go home. Usually the punishment is applied after you get back, but not this time. So when I called home, they weren’t fazed by it. I realized maybe it wasn’t that big of a deal as I was making it. This incident helped me focus on myself, and what I need to do. I wanted to put the blame on someone else, but I finally came to grips with it after I calmed down. I came to the realization that if I would have handed in the homework on time, I would have been able to go. I learned an important lesson about consequences.

All the things that are in the world are here at TLC also, but that’s good too. Here I’ve learned to deal with my emotions in a protected environment. I came here with a lot of Bible knowledge, but I was being a hypocrite. It’s helped me learn not to react to things, to take a step back, see all the angles, and get a bigger perspective.

If I were a parent who suspected my child was doing drugs, my advice would be to talk to your child. Give them a drug test and educate yourself as much as you can about drug addiction. There’s something else going on in their life. The addict doesn’t realize what that is, especially at the beginning stages. Spend time with them and see if they’ll talk to you about it. No one can make them stop; they have to want it for themselves, but you can help.

I hope my testimony will help other addicts. Take what you can out of it. Drugs are not worth the temporary high; they can destroy you. They aren’t worth the consequences. Ultimately, drugs prevent you from facing your problems and responsibility. They create more problems that you need to deal with later on. The longer you’re in the cycle, the harder it is to get out of it. You don’t need drugs.

God is sufficient. His provisions are enough. I’m learning to believe that fully. I know my drug addiction has been terrible, but I know God works all things together for good. Now I know Jesus, and that is good. I could have had a normal life, but my spiritual eyes would have been closed. I wouldn’t have seen the spiritual condition I was in, and for this I’m thankful.