Saturday, February 28, 2015

Getting over the delusion

Getting over the delusion that our kids are immune from drugs at a Christian college and even our own church!


               The delusional thinking by parents, pastors, and educators needs to stop, immediately. What is this delusional thinking I’m referring to?  The drug and alcohol epidemic that is running ramped throughout the United States is somehow not affecting our young people and their friends. The attached link above shows us that even conservative, highly respected Christian colleges can and most often do have and drug and alcohol problem.

               The difference between non-Christian Colleges and generally Christian colleges are the rules. However, in many kids’ minds, rules are meant to be BROKEN and alcohol and drugs are no exception.

               The drug epidemic has evolved over the years and the goal of using drugs remains the same: to get high, buzzed, and feel good. However, the results in many cases are just the opposite as the students at the Wesleyan College have found out.  The synthetic drug also known as MDMA is in high demand especially among College students. The drug is generally referred to as: “Ecstasy or, more recently, as Molly. It is a synthetic psychoactive drug that has similarities to both the stimulant amphetamine and the hallucinogen mescaline. It produces feelings of increased energy, euphoria, emotional warmth and empathy toward others, and distortions in sensory and time perception.”[1]

               As an Alcohol and Drug Counselor for over 23 years, I have worked with a number of MDMA users, and have found that the drug, despite the perception in the community, movies, and other settings has the same negative impact on individuals.  When discussing drugs use I ask all my clients/patients the four same questions:

1. Has the drug had a negative impact on your finances?  Include the money you spend for the product, the medical expenses for recovery, legal fees, etc.

2. Has the drug caused you legal issues? Have you been arrested, or narrowly escaped out the back door when the cop’s arrived?

3. Has the drug caused you problems with your family and friends?  This could include not showing up for family or planned functions with friends because of using or recovering from a recent use.  Family and friends continue to express concern about the use of alcohol or drugs.

4. Are you experiencing problems either physically or mentally?  There is a lot of research that alcohol and drugs have a negative impact on the body. Depending on the drug, it could affect the heart, lungs, blood pressure, liver, kidneys, and every organ in the body in some way. There is also evidence that the alcohol and drugs have a major effect on the brain, the mood, depression, anxiety, cognitive function, perception, and the neurological development of individual.

Parents, pastors, educators, and student support groups, let’s not be like the ostrich, the big bird that sticks his head in the sand and believes that problems don’t exist. The reality is that the problem is “TOO REAL” and young people are getting hurt, sick, and dying!

While the student is told and chooses to believe the Ecstasy/Molly’s will help improve their party experience, others are told it will help them focus and study.  Some are seeking a great buzz and others are seeking a sexual stimulant. Whatever the reason for using this drug the outcome is always destructive.  

The following is a partial list of some of the major effects:

Sharp increase in body temperature
Good probability of liver, kidney, and heart failure
Dehydration
Hallucinations
Increase motor activity
Alertness
Increase heart rate
Muscle tension
Tremors
Muscle cramps
Nausea
Faintness
Chills
Sweating
Blurred vision

This drug is synthetic and frequently manufactured in abandoned warehouses, barns, and even bathtubs in your neighborhood.  You don’t who made it, their degree of cleanliness, what ingredients were used, or what safety precautions they took.  The only thing you know is it is DEADLY!
My challenge to parents, pastors, educators, and friends is to please stop ignoring the problem of addiction.  Take the challenge to:

Learn what drugs the kids you know are using.

Ask questions
Become informed
Get them help
Hold people accountable for their use
Hold the school accountable for providing education and treatment for addictions.






[1] National Institute on Drug Abuse. MDMA (Ecstasy or Molly) Retrieved from http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/mdma-ecstasy-or-molly on February 24, 2015

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Valentine’s Day


            St. Valentine’s Day is a day of celebration throughout the United States and many other countries, as well as a part of the traditional worship of many denominations throughout the world today. Over the years I have read many accounts of who Saint Valentine was, what he accomplished, how he died as a martyr for his beliefs, and how we ended up with religious and secular holiday’s honoring him.

            One those noted and recorded traditions is that in the 4th century A.D.   Valentine was a Priest, that felt loving and healthy relationships where essentials to one’s wellbeing.  Tradition talks of Priest Valentine preforming marriages for soldiers in the Roman Army that by decree of the Emperor Claudius where forbidden to marry. There is no record of such a degree.  However, this has remained the focus of the story. He also performed weddings for the persecuted Christian throughout the region that where denied the right to marry in the church due to their beliefs.  Sadly, the legends and myths of this man of God have overshadowed the truth and reality of who he was.

            Today Valentine’s Day is a holiday that makes millions (if not billions) for businesses around the world from, cookies, candies, cards, teddy bears, and hundreds of other items.  The fact there is word Saint in front of his name is lost, with most people not even realizing the importance of the religious connection of this day.

            Maybe it is time we return to traditional roots of St. Valentine’s Day.  As I read the legends, myths, and historical accounts I see three things that stand out to me about the man and this concept of love and his ministryHe had a compassion and love for the Lord he served, and encouraged others to share their love and faith about Christ not only with their loved ones, but with friends around the world.

  1. He had a strong sense of traditional marriage, to the point that if the legends are correct he would defy the very law of the land and preform traditional Christian weddings for Men and Women that government deemed inappropriate.  
  2. He would stand upon the conviction of the scripture that marriage was between a man and women, and be willing to be persecuted and martyrd for his conviction.
  3.  He would have disagreed with what St. Valentine’s Day has become the holiday of mega-money. However, he would have most likely been pleased that the tradition of expressing love and kindness for someone you love has continued throughout history. Of course he would tell us we should do that every day.
For me in 1986 Valentine’s Day took on a very special meeting, that is the day I said I LOVE YOU and I DO to a very special lady, which has remained my Valentine/Sweetheart and Best Friend for 29 years.  So I thank St. Valentine for his contribution to my life, and for the example he set in establishing the values, teaching, and understanding of LOVE within the context of marriage.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Suicide … How many more lives will be lost?

Again and again I hear of pastors and Christian leaders that have choose to end their own lives. I remember an incident that happened when I was a young preacher in the town where I grew up. A pastor shot himself in the head in his office holding his Bible. This happened only a few hours after he was confronted by the church leadership over an affair that they had discovered he was having with one of his parishioners. Believing that his ministry and marriage were over, he chose to take his own life instead of coping with the shame and guilt. Some would say that his action was honorable; others would call him a coward.

However, we don’t know what this pastor was thinking about that gave him permission to take his own life. And just like today, as we continue to hear the news of pastors/ministers committing suicide, we really don’t know what they are thinking. Sadly, the culture of the church not has created a way for clergy to share the fears and hardships they are struggling with.  Many pastors who have been put on a pedestal fall, and then do not know how to properly address the shame, guilt, or humiliation they have caused, with the very people that had elevated them.

Over the years I have heard dozens of stories by Pastors, Ministers, and Lay people in the church that have expressed the thought of giving up or quitting; some of them have even said they had considered suicide. However, they were able to find an alternative to the permeant solution that they had considered. They used the steps of the acrostic: TALK

Tell someone what you are thinking
Ask someone for help
Listen to what people share to help you
Keep focused on the positive

And Choose Life

            Today we should be encouraging our pastors/ministers to choose life by providing a safe place for them to TALK where they may engage openly within a fellowship of caring pastors who encourage and help them walk through traumatic experiences.

            I have been involved in ministry for over 35 years and have been hurt by a lot of people. Ironically, no one has hurt me more in the church than other pastors. There are probably a thousand reasons why pastors commit suicide, but I think the main reason is that other clergy did not or did not know how to support and encourage them daily. I can’t answer for you pastor, but I can ask myself:
Do I give others the freedom to tell me what they are thinking?

Am I willing to provide help when they ask, and do I hear/see the non-verbal cries for help?
Do I really listen to what they share with me, or I’m too busy focusing on the next sermon or big program at my church?
Am I tearing them down instead of building them up?

Pastors, it is time we focus on Life and help others in the ministry to do so today.

Three simple challenges!

Call a pastor and encourage him in his role as a minister!
Ask a pastor to how he is doing, and then really listen to what he says!
Commit to praying for 12 pastors in your area that you know personally. Ask God to encourage them and to allow you to influence them for LIFE!


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Heroin use on the rise and destroying lives!


Having lived in the Greater Cincinnati/Tri-State area for the past 28 years, I have seen the challenges of our communities to combat the drug epidemics that have come through our region.  Over the 23 years I have been active in what I’m hoping is making an impact on the drug problems/epidemic throughout our region as an Alcohol and Drug Counselor.  A recent article in the Cincinnati Enquire I believe accurately tells the story of the Drug Epidemic in 2014.

In the past 23 years I have counseled thousands of individuals that are struggling daily with an addiction either to such things as alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, diet pills, benzo’s (Xanax and Valium) and many other drugs. However, I have not seen a drug that has torn through the very fiber of our society as Heroin has over the past 5 to 7 years.  The following tragic re-wording Psalm 23 by an anonymous heroin addict set the reality for the current drug crisis today!

King Heroin
"King Heroin Is My Shepherd, I Shall Always Want."
"King Heroin is my shepherd, I shall always want.
He makes me to lie down in the gutters."
"He leads me beside the troubled waters.
He destroys my soul.
He leads me in the paths of wickedness."
"Yes, I shall walk through the valley of poverty and will fear no evil for you, heroin, are with me."
"Your needle and your capsule comfort me."
"You strip the table of groceries in the presence of my family."
"You rob my head of reason.
My cup of sorrow runs over."
"Surely heroin addiction shall stalk me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the damned forever."

            What has become even more ironic to me is the denial within the church today that drugs and especially heroin are a serious problem. This continual delusion that the young people and adults in our churches are not addicted and the fact that pastors honestly believe it. I sadly understand parents loving their children, or how they could, for a short time, be in denial. However, the reality is that it is time to wake up and smell the roses. The National Institute for Drug Abuse reports that over 1.6% or nearly 4 million people over the age of 12 reported using Heroin at least once.  Heroin being cheap has not helped with this national epidemic. However, if we add in the use of other opiates such as OxyContin, Vicodin, other drugs with an opiate/morphine base, the numbers become much higher

            There continues to be a high risk for overdose when an individual uses Heroin or other opiate substances, and the potential for dependency is very high.  Results or effects from using are generally slow and shallow breathing, blue lips and fingernails, clammy skin, convulsions, coma, and possibly death.

            What now … it is time for parents, church leaders, and the community to overcome the denial that has kept us from being a resource for success in recovery that are effected by the use of Heroin or other opiate drugs. What are the signs? Missing pills from prescription bottles in the home, behavioral changes, loss of interest in school, extracurricular activities and friends, often appears to have excessive sleepiness (because opiates are sedatives), requesting or spending money with nothing to show for it, needle marks or unseasonable long-sleeved shirts to cover them up (this is not an exhaustive list). Opiate users eventually build up tolerance to the drugs, so they need increasing amounts to achieve the same effects.

            As a parent: It is essential that we get over the mindset of what will be thought of me? It is time to intervene, ask questions, and find the truth. As a parent it is often times better to ask the tough questions and be wrong, than not ask any question and be totally right that they were using and find out too late. Recommend a treatment program for them, either inpatient or outpatient depending on the individual. Some will require short term help and make a great recovery plan, others will need ongoing support. Call your insurance company for recommendation, call the local hospital, and call Narcotic Anonymous. They all have great resources to help you find help.


            As a church: It is essential that we pull our head out of the sand, and provide as many resources as possible. Sadly, praying at the altar is not going to be enough for most Heroin/Opiate addicts. The ability to provide counseling (if you have some knowledge) or develop a great resource list is the key to helping them recover. It will also take realizing that it is going to take the addict, family, church, and community working together to help them find the tools to not use.

Monday, July 14, 2014

A look @ what has been accomplished over the past 11 years!

Through HIM Ministries
A look @ what has been accomplished over the past 11 years!

We founded Through HIM Ministries officially in April of 2003, after returning from New York City working with individuals affected by the events of September 11, 2001.

Since then we have seen God bless and allow us to have the following accomplishments Through HIM!
·         We currently maintain two blogs
o   With over 8700 views
o   With People viewing from 63 countries

·         We have published
o   64 workbooks/study-guides
o   With a conservative estimate of over 60,000 download, views, and reads.
§  Keeping in mind that several of ours sites that we have downloaded the material to do not keep records, and we have found several sites that have chosen to download our material to their sites without our permission. (So be it, we simply say to God be the glory)
o   We have received e-mails as well as comments on Facebook and LinkedIn from pastors in Africa, India, Pakistan, Philippines, and other places as well thanking us for the material.

·         We have presented workshop/seminars
o   Have spoken breakout sessions at men’s conferences such as @ Iron Sharpening Iron, Flashpoint Men’s Conferences.
o   Spoken a several men’s retreats and conferences with local churches.
o   Have spoken professional in conferences on addictions, and grief.
o   Have preached in several dozen churches over the years.

·         Founded Through HIM School of Ministry
o   With three courses currently online

·         Have built an online web connection network
o   With over 7000 connection between Facebook, LinkedIn, and other connections


How can we a blessing to you?

Monday, May 19, 2014

Am I Standing strong for my faith?

Am I standing strong for my faith? What are you going to do, when it is illegal?

The news is full of stories that remind us of the book of Acts were we read several accounts of individuals being persecuted for their faith, and ironically it is almost always done in the name of religion.  History has continued to be full of men and women that have died for their faith, their unwillingness to compromise their belief in God.  Wether it was the Jews of the Old Testament that wouldn’t bow to the idle of the conquering nations, the martyrs in the Roman coliseum, to the Chines or Russian believers in atheistic nations that have turned their back on God, or those that follow the Islamic Shariah laws.  Please don’t misunderstand me, I have read church history and the Christian churches have had their share of bloodshed and persecution to mandate someone to believe in God. Regardless of who is doing the persecuting it is wrong, every individual worldwide should have the choice of accepting or rejecting the Savior Jesus Christ.

I recently read an article on the net, that to be honest did not shock me! Check it out @ http://news.yahoo.com/sudanese-woman-sentenced-death-apostasy-123904046.html

For me the question is not if this could happen within the United States, the question is when? I’m not sure if it will be Islamic Shariah laws, the Atheistic Agenda to remove Christianity from American culture like they attempted in China and Russia, or if it will be anyone of a number of influence that will put Christians on a collision course with death.

There is a cop show that has the song “Bad boys, bad boys, what you going to do when they come for you?” … At some point in the not too distant future Christians are going to be considered the BAD BOYS & GIRLS, what are you going to do when they come for you?

There are simply two options:
  1.  Acknowledge Christ and Savior, and live your life for Christ and be punished and in some cases even die for the faith that lives within you. Knowing that as you kneel before persecutors you will kneel before Christ in Heaven with all his glory around you.
  2. Recant, and claim that everything you believed and shared about Christ was a lie.  Reject the eternity of Heaven, the loving touch of Christ, the compassion of Christ at the Cross, the Victory over death at the empty tomb.

It is sad to say but the government, the watch groups, the United Nations, or any other organization around the world that you are trusting in are not going to be able to prevent the coming judgment or persecution in fact if the truth be known most of these including your own government and the United Nations could carry out the agenda of removing the Christian influence and testimony from that vary foundation that we hold dear.
The famous preacher of one of America’s first Mega churches (at one time running over 10,000) in America in the late 1800’s D.L. Moody would say, the thing he feared most was that 50% of his congregation would split Hell wide open. The reality of today is that I would have the same fear.  The church of American has NO FEAR of persecution, no reason to defend their faith. However, the day is coming when REAL Men and Women of Christ will have to stand and proclaim with a loud voice “I’m a Christian until death”
What do we need to do?

·         Pray for those that are being persecuted. PRAY for our leadership around the country that they would stand for the faith they claim they represent. And that Christ will give you the peace and understanding to share your faith daily, so that others will spend eternity with you in heaven.

·         As pastors and member of the Body of Christ what do we need to do? We need to Preach a clear salvation message without comprise, Teach the Body of Christ to defend and share their faith effectively around the world, and encourage the Body of Christ to live a life that is a reflection of what Christ did for them at the day of salvation.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Tragedies and more tragedies ....

I can’t help but look to heaven and ask why? There seems to be so many tragedies recently from airplanes crashing, to ferry’s capsizing, bus crashes, and countless other stories around the world of dozens and even in some cases hundreds dying.  I realize that the news media (24 hour/7 day week) coverage plays a role in how we react to the news of death.

I have spent my entire adult life serving in the church, as a pastor, associate pastor, children’s pastor, men’s leaders, and college instructor. Helping people in crisis is difficult at any time, when a family member or friend dies after a long health related illness, we ask questions. When a young person commits suicide we look for answers.  When a plane crashes or ship sinks we demand answers.  Sadly, many times there is no good or acceptable answer. What there is; are frustrations, anger, resentment, denial, and multitude of others emotions that are so common of people in crisis and coping with a personal tragedy.

As pastors and ministers we are generally the first called when one of these tragedies strikes a family within our church or community. How we respond will determine much of how God will be viewed throughout the grief process and recovery process.  I have sat with many of family members, church members, and community members, watching other pastors with the bedside manors of a lion or bear (I have a few other words I thought of but, they are not really nice). My heart breaks for the family, as this pastor/minister opens his mouth and talks with no compassion or understanding of the human heart or need’s.  I often wonder what were they taught in Bible College or Seminary, or who showed them how to minister during these time.
If I could sit with pastors around the world today and share my heart, it would be these three simple things that I learned over the past 35 years of ministry, helping folks deal with a crisis from a sick child, loss of a parent, and destruction of property, to responding to a crisis at a school, or crash site.

1) Silence is a virtue, people want someone to listen to them cry and weep. Allowing them to vent and ask questions, process their emotions, and find answers in the compassion and love we share, as we simply sit with them.

2) Sharing should always be honest and positive. In the case of crisis hold out hope with them. I recently sat with a pastor that was ministering to a family of sick child, and he asked what are your plans for the funeral? Yes the patient was terminal, and there was little hope on the doctor’s part. However, as pastor we should help them focus on the positive of Christ love, and the possibility of Christ mercy, at the same time helping them prepare for God ending grace.

3) Serving Christ should be the most important task. I’m convinced that sharing Christ is my most important task, showing Christ mercy, love, and compassion is first and foremost in my focus throughout the time.

These three simple thoughts keep me focus, as I’m in the hospital, a family home, an emergency shelter, standing on the street corner, or at a crash site. I always have to remember “it is not about me, it is about them, finding peace in Christ love through a time that there is no answer that makes sense except Christ”.  However, in these times they need us to pray, encourage, have faith with them, that there is comfort in HIM (Christ),