Pain = Purpose

“Saddle up your horses; we’ve got a trail to blaze. Through the wild blue yonder of God’s amazing grace.”

These are the epic opening lyrics to the corny Steven Curtis Chapman song entitled “The Great Adventure.” It’s cheesy and full of over-the-top backup vocals, but the lyrics still ring true – regardless of the hairstyle of lead singer.

The song says this:

Come on, get ready for the ride of your life
Gonna leave long-faced religion in a cloud of dust behind
And discover all the new horizons just waiting to be explored
This is what we were created for

Saddle up your horses; we’ve got a trail to blaze
Through the wild blue yonder of God’s amazing grace
Let’s follow our leader into the glorious unknown
This is a life like no other – this is The Great Adventure

This is so true. I love it! “A life like no other.” Doesn’t that sound good? It does to me. Today I feel like I live a Great Adventure-style life. A life so far past anything I could have ever dreamed I could live. And you know what? It has nothing to do with money, status or success and everything to do with fully accepting my purpose and my pain.

This is the life I believe we are all called to live! When we fully embrace grace and fully release our guilt, then we’re embarking on a great adventure that will take us to places we only dreamed we could experience. It will place us perfectly in the path of a stranger who needs just what we can offer. It will give us talents we can use so effortlessly people will think we’re part alien. When you find yourself in the middle of God’s great adventure of grace, you’ll feel like you’re dreaming a dream so pure and perfect it could only come from a perfect Creator.

The adventure of grace is where we belong. It fits around us like a perfectly stitched set of footie pajamas. You slide into it and life just seems to make sense around you. Ego and pride seem meaningless, worry and doubt seem like wastes of time, and the solitude you used to despise becomes a welcome home. When you step into the grace of Jesus Christ, the world begins to make a lot more sense. Your life begins to make more sense; your past begins to make more sense.

Your pain will begin to make more sense.

Yes. I said pain.

How can a great life – one that makes perfect sense, that is filled with meaningful and significant relationships, that basically fits like a glove – have anything to do with pain?

For starters, pain is a universal affliction no human is privileged enough to escape. Every person who has taken even a brief tour on this planet has experienced pain at some point, and until we pass away, we will continue to experience it. We cannot escape pain. We can’t run from it, pay it off, ignore it, move away from it, yell at it until it cowers in submission, shop it away, drink it away, snort it away, eat it away, or push it away. Pain hits all of us. For most people, it hits us hard, it hits us early, and it keeps on hitting.

But it doesn’t have to keep you bound forever. Pain can be made purposeful. Pain can be the fuel that God uses to initiate the rescuing of your lost dreams.

Over the past several years, as I’ve journeyed through my own personal battle with pain and walked alongside hundreds of others, I’ve seen a theme in those who find a way to overcome and those who don’t. For the latter, it sucks. I hate it. I can’t stand to see someone hurting and feel useless. I want to put my hands on their shoulders and just scream, It doesn’t have to be this way! There is hope! You can have your dreams back!

But for the former, the pathway to peace is a beautiful journey that starts with a powerful word that changes everything. Hope. Hope gives you the courage to claim your pain, stare your past in the eyes and refuse to allow it to determine your destiny any longer. When you put your Hope in Jesus you begin to realize that there is nothing you can’t overcome and no past mistake that He won’t use to fuel your future. God will use your past pain to become your perfect purpose.

Addiction can’t stop you

Depression won’t slow you down

Anger begins to slip away

Hurt becomes forgiveness

Resentments bring new opportunity for growth

Hurts fuel your progress

Pain becomes purpose

Pain is a common ailment for humans. But we don’t have to let it steal our dreams and God given purpose any more. Claim your pain for what it is: experience. Claim your strength in the one who will never fail: Jesus. And let the new found HOPE in your life begin to change everything!

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This is an excerpt from my second book, Hope Changes Everything. To read more on pain, dreams and the purpose God has for your life pick up the book here…

Yesterday I Stopped Dreaming

I was looking through old blog posts last night and came across one that stopped me dead in my tracks. It was originally written on February 18, 2013 and you’ve got to read it.

If you’re feeling as though God is calling you to something greater, then read this NOW!

If you want to see how God can provide, then read this NOW!

If you need some inspiration this morning, then read this NOW! (more…)

Marked Moments – A Preview of my Next Book!

Our lives are shaped by a handful of significant moments. These moments can help to create our character, shape our soul and make us the men and women we are. But they can also push us off track, alter our self-worth and bury fears deep within us that might take years to overcome. Good, bad or ugly, these marked moments draw the outline that will eventually become the masterpiece of our lives. I bet if you took just thirty seconds you could rattle off three or four marked moments in your life.

(more…)

The Ultimate Cuss Word

 

Too many of us have lived life as if the word vulnerability was the ultimate cuss word. It seemed nasty and made us think of people who were frail and feeble. Individuals who couldn’t handle the pressure, people who lacked confidence. Scrawny. Pathetic. Pitiful. Certainly not characteristics we strong, Bible-belt-living, mask-wearing, approval-seeking individuals would dare to be called.

Vulnerability = weakness. Pure and simple.

Right?

Wrong.

I am vulnerable and I’m okay with it.

What I’ve learned since my private stranglehold became public is that vulnerability is not a bad word, but a beautiful one. Vulnerability is the key that opens the door to a life of freedom, purpose, and authentic living.  In a world where we all long to be connected, to know and love others deeply, to embrace our true self, to shout out, “I AM OKAY BEING ME,” vulnerability gives us the strength to do so.

Fact is, we ALL want to live a life true to ourselves.

No one gets up in the morning and says, “I can’t wait to be fake today!”

Yet so many of us are. Why?

Shame? Guilt? Lack of self–worth?

When thoughts of being vulnerable pop up, we depress them instantly, sending them back down where they came from or covering them up with our own self-prescribed medicines of drugs, porn, gossip, food, TV, lust, hate. Pick your poison.

Each day we choose to walk away from vulnerability, from a true authentic embrace of all that we are and were created to be. We take a step further into a stiff, flavorless existence that resembles a police officer at a crime scene: “Nothing to see here; keep moving along.”

What I want to challenge you to think about today is this: on the other side of vulnerability lies the life you’ve always desired. A life free from others’ expectations. A life free from doubt. A life perfectly created for you. A life of joy, hope, and acceptance.

Why do I believe this? Well, because true vulnerability is accepting that God’s grace has already covered ever spot and blemish on your record. All of it. The grace of the Father says you are a new creation, completely perfect and blameless. And if there is no blame, there’s no shame. There’s nothing that you’ve done or will do that could ever embarrass God. You are ready to live a life free from shame. Because God loves you right where you are and wants you to live freely and with the purpose he created you for. Free, humble, loving, and vulnerable.

Think of Jesus. Is He not the perfect picture of vulnerability? He was God in human skin, who walked this planet and boldly went about his calling with true vulnerability. Putting all His faith in the Father’s hands. Going after the hurting, bucking the system, challenging everything that had been done before him all while knowing that ultimately it would end with him naked, murdered on a cross in front of his best friends. Knowing the outcome wasn’t pretty, he pressed on. That’s the kind of Savior I want to follow.

If my Savior is willing to live a life that vulnerable, then I am too.

What about you? Can you take a step towards living authentically today? Can you take the mask off and accept yourself and others for the flawed, imperfect people we are?

Or is vulnerability still a cuss word to you?

Unstoppable

I’ve come to believe that greatness is produced by people who relentlessly pursue their dreams. People who let nothing stand in the way.

For some of you, today is the day you need to start fighting back, to start chasing your dreams instead of watching other people live theirs.

So you’ve failed? Who cares, we all have. It’s time to re-invent yourself!

It’s time to quit taking days OFF! It’s time to quit living in fear, allowing your past to define your future. It’s time to become unstoppable. If you want to achieve your dreams you’ve got to chase after them. They will not come and knock on your door, you must get up, go out, hunt them down, grab em by the throat and take’em with you.

It’s Monday and it’s time to start living. It’s time to say I want to live my dreams. I want to live in freedom, happiness and joy. I choose to live, today is the day I start. Tomorrow they will remember me!

A sickness. A story. For HIS glory!

There are many theories out there about addiction. Its causes, how it takes root and how it perpetuates. There are even more out there about its remedies, how it’s cured, how to treat it and how to live with it.

When I was in treatment at Rob’s Ranch, they told us that the medical community and even the government had declared addiction a disease. When I first heard this I must admit I kind of chuckled. I was new in sobriety, really new, like 3 days into it. So it seemed like a phony excuse made up for addicts like me.  You know something they tell you so you don’t feel so bad about how horrible your life had become.

But the more I let this theory roll around in my skull, the more and more it began to make sense. A disease, in its most basic form is a sickness. The simplest step to begin overcoming any sickness is by a daily regimented treatment.  Right? Well I knew I had a problem that I couldn’t stop on my own. I had tried for years to cure my own ills, only to fail time and time again. So a few weeks into treatment as my mind begins to clear up I began to understand how daily treatment could really help me to overcome my sickness. Pretty soon that description of disease started sounding pretty good to me.  I was sick and I needed someone, something to help me get well.

If you are a bible reader you may know the story of Jesus’ good friend Lazarus in the book of John. The story begins by the admission that Lazarus was sick.  Here is what it says…

Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” John 11:1-3 NIV

So sick was Lazarus, that his sister and close friend felt the need to relay to Jesus, with urgency, this news, in hopes that Jesus would hear it and come running. Or better yet, just heal him on the spot.

But, knowing that Jesus is God, in bone and skin. We realize He already knew the sickness was upon his friend and the way in which the story would end. Just the same way He knows you and me and the ending to our stories.

We see later in verse four what Jesus’ response was upon receiving this distress call from Lazarus posse. This powerful verse shook me to my core when I heard it. Here is what is says.

When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” John 11:4 NIV

Boom! As soon as I heard that my mind rushed back to that moment when I was first told that the plague that nearly killed me was a disease, a sickness. I could have died from that sickness. In fact, many of my good friends have. Many that were sitting in that same lecture with me 2 years ago are dead. But not me.  Why? God had a bigger plan. A brighter purpose. A future, a hope.

Is it for me to receive acclaim? Of course NOT.

Is it for my counselors to be praised? NO.

Was I spared so I could write a book or get a pat on the back after speaking somewhere? Not a chance.

I was spared from my sickness for one reason and one reason only. So that God’s Son, Jesus would be glorified through it. So that by me continuing to live, He would receive more glory, more honor and more praise.

We all face sickness in our lives. Some of you are literally dealing with disease and illness right now, in this moment.  Your suffering through sicknesses of depression, anxiety, hate, pain, trauma, molestation and the list could go on and on. Whatever sickness you’re facing today, I want you to know and believe that it doesn’t have to end in death.  God wants to use it for His glory. He wants to bring you back to Himself, opening up an endless foundation of freedom, forgiveness and love. He is the miracle worker. He is the magnificent healer. He is making all things new and today. Trust that He has a plan and that it starts today. He can turn your sickness into a story. For His glory!

-Hope is Alive!

Sneak Peek – Chapter 6, “Just Say Yes!”

Today we are continuing the preview of my upcoming book, Hope is Alive (One addicts story of hope). The preview today is from chapter 6, entitled “Just Say Yes!”. This chapter is all about action!  I discuss how saying Yes!, can change your life.  You never know what lies on the other side of a YES! New opportunities could be waiting for you, new strengths could be found and by taking on new and challenging experiences, you will gain momentum to keep your hope alive.

To order the book, click this link – HOPE is ALIVE!

Sneak Peek #7– Chapter 6, Just say Yes!

Hope_is_Alive_Cover_for_KindleDo you hear the tension in the word NO? It’s that long, stretched-out response overflowing with anxiety and guilt. It’s just a nasty word.

No requires zero follow-up or commitment. In fact, it’s a negative phrase that is typically said for no other reason than our own convenience.

Additionally, research shows that 77% of our thoughts are negative and counterproductive. We are perpetually programming our mind to think NO! NO! NO! This definitely happens as we begin to gain sobriety. Whether you find yourself in a treatment center, sober living environment, or holed up in your parents’ basement until they decide you can re-enter society, the word NO is all around you:

  • No, you can’t use anymore
  • No, you can’t see that person
  • No, you can’t go to that place
  • No, that friend is off limits
  • No, you can’t see your kids
  • No, you can’t use your phone

While all these things may be justified and needful at times, when it comes to taking action in your recovery, you are in charge. You and you alone determine how successful you will be.

So it’s time to claim responsibility and just say YES!

What do I mean by that? Hear me out. Just say YES was the tone I took when I began to turn my life around. Today, I credit this action-packed response as one of the single biggest reasons I stayed sober my first year out of treatment and furthermore, why 85% of the rest of my class did not.

 

To order the book, click this link – HOPE is ALIVE!


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