Cash In

Justin Timberlake delivered this line in The Social Network (2010): “A million dollars isn’t cool. You know what’s cool? A billion dollars.”  Paul wrote, “The love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10).  Money can present challenges for anyone. But that is especially true for the sex addict. I’m sure you…

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Little Things

Focus on the little things. Make a meeting. Call someone in recovery. Work one Step. Pray a short prayer. Go for a walk. Read a good devotional. Memorize one verse of Scripture. That’s how you secure sobriety – by stringing together several “little things.”  Dale Carnegie said, “Do the little things right and the rest…

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Devils and Angels

Saint Augustine said, “It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels.” Clinicians cite several benefits of humility. Let’s name two of them. Dr. Anna Schaffner concludes, “A humble mindset has significant positive effects on our cognitive, interpersonal, and decision-making skills.” And David Robson writes, “Humility fosters trust,…

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Never Too Late

On November 14, 2009, Tom Thompson stepped onto the football field to attempt his first extra point as a place-kicker for NCAA Division III Austin College, of Sherman, Texas. His kick was good. That would be the last point Austin College would score against Trinity University that mild Saturday afternoon.  This may not sound newsworthy…

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Passion

Recovery without passion is just talk. So what is passion? The word “passion” comes from the root pati, meaning to suffer. Anything about which we are passionate is something for which we are willing to suffer.  Sure it is hard to stay sober. Yes, your commitment to recovery will invite attack and temptation. But if…

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Moving On

On the night of his betrayal, Jesus said something interesting to his betrayer. He told Judas, “What you are going to do, do quickly” (John 13:27).  It wasn’t that Jesus was commending the betrayal, but that he wanted to move quickly beyond this historic mistake. You have made colossal mistakes. Every sex addict has. Now…

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Co-MVPs

Something rare happened in baseball, 20 years ago today. Arizona Diamondbacks pitchers Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling were named co-MVPs of the World Series. This was unprecedented because in each Series, one player always stands out as the most outstanding performer. But this year was different. Johnson and Schilling each pitched multiple games of near…

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Prison Letters

A man in prison ministry told me an alarming story at a recent conference. For Mother’s Day, he offered Mother’s Day cards to each of the inmates, which they could use to send a note to their mothers. About 700 inmates did so. For Father’s Day, just one month later, he made the same offer.…

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Pardon Me

If your husband or wife has been unfaithful; if they have been caught in a web of addiction, you have a decision to make. Stay or leave? Your spouse’s infidelity has opened the door for you to pick Door #1 or Door #2 with a clear conscience. No one can fault you if you decide…

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Hold Fast

In the iconic sitcom, I Love Lucy, Lucy Ricardo said to her husband Ricky, “Ever since we said ‘I do,’ there are so many things we don’t.” Nothing is easier to do than drift apart as a married couple. Other interests and responsibilities can crowd out the relationship that matters most, and we put our…

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Creativity

Be creative with your recovery. Have you ever considered that before? I have embraced the basics of recovery for years, checking every box.  Go to meetings? Check. Work the steps? Check. Get a sponsor? Check. Become a sponsor? Check. Pray daily? Check. Make calls? Check.  But it can become easy to fall into a rut.…

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Confident

I share the same birthday with one of baseball’s all-time colorful players – 50 years apart. Dizzy Dean played 13 seasons of Big League ball, with a WW2 mixed in. A four-time all-star, World Series champion, and league MVP, Dean amassed 150 wins to go along with a career ERA of just 3.02. But it…

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False Assumptions

It happened on this date in 1964. The British Invasion continued on the Ed Sullivan Show. Following the appearance of the more clean-cut Beatles, the Rolling Stones showed up. Their loud music, heavy beat, and anti-establishment look certainly caught poor Ed off guard. They were not what he was expecting.  Life is full of false…

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Faith

Faith is an indispensable element of successful recovery.  Corrie ten Boom said this about faith: “Faith sees the invisible, believes the unbelievable, and receives the impossible.” And Jesus promised, “Whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you ask in faith” (Matthew 21:22).  The role of faith in recovery has now been recognized by…

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Spin Cycle

A young boy went into a grocery store and asked for laundry detergent. The grocer asked, “Is this for your clothes?” “No,” said the boy. “It’s for my dog.” The grocer said, “This stuff isn’t made for dogs. It could kill him.” The boy took the detergent anyway. A few days later, he returned to…

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What’s Wrong with Secrets?

Let’s talk about secrets.  Oswald Chambers wrote, “We are only what we are in the dark; all the rest is reputation.”  Dr. Grant Brenner writes about the effects of secrets on our well-being. “Secrecy reduces well-being, while sharing can increase satisfaction. Keeping secrets takes work and is fatiguing. Secrets make us lonely and sad. They…

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Three Words

Before Jesus taught us what to pray, he taught us how to pray.  Jesus said, “When you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly” (Matthew 6:6). Let me highlight…

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Excusable

Addicts are funny. We have mastered the science of justification for just about any behavior. Our middle circle behaviors are written mostly in pencil, not ink. And it’s true – there are things we can “get away with” that don’t break our sobriety. They are acceptable. But not smart. G.K. Chesterton said, “We do not…

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Potential

We choose people based on what they have already done. That’s true with the NFL draft, job openings, and marriage proposals. We don’t hire potential. Imagine a senior pastor telling his leadership team he has found the perfect student pastor. He describes the candidate thusly: “This young man is bright, has great leadership traits, and…

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Humility. Addiction.

Humility. Addiction. What’s the connection between the two? Surprisingly, the connection is quite strong. We act out when we lose self-control, and we lose self-control when we become obsessed with ourselves.  Psychologist Jeremy Dean writes, “Oddly, perhaps, studies have found that an obsession with the self can paradoxically lead to lower self-control.” So what’s the…

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Objective

J.I. Packer wrote, “What makes life worthwhile is having a big objective, something that catches our imagination.” What catches your imagination? What is your grand purpose for living? What objective gets you out of bed each day?  If you are in recovery, let me suggest a few objectives that you might find useful, all based…

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Unmasked

Do you remember this verse from the New Testament? “We all, with unveiled face, are being transformed into the image of God” (2 Corinthians 3:18). That’s powerful! Did you catch the two words that tell us the requirement for being truly transformed by God?  Unveiled face. We must remove the mask and be willing to…

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Keep Your Pile

A college student sent a letter back home to his parents. “Dear Mom and Dad, I was thrown out of college for smoking pot. I just got married, because I got my girlfriend pregnant. And I was arrested for stealing cash from work.” The student continued. “None of that is true. But what is true…

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Juneteenth

Juneteenth began in Galveston, Texas. The holiday commemorates June 19, 1865, whenGordon Granger, a Union general, rode into Galveston and announced that slavery had been ended. Reaction among the newly freed slaves ranged from shock to jubilant celebration.  There’s more to the story. The slaves had actually gained their freedom when President Lincoln issued the…

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A Headless Crown

There’s an interesting verse in the Book of Lamentations. “The crown has fallen from our head” (Lamentations 5:16). Have you lost your crown? Were you walking in victory, sobriety, and recovery, only to have the crown fall off your head? The Journal of American Medical Association tells us that 40-60 percent of all addicts suffer…

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NFL Passing Leader

Who am I? In 2011, I became the all-time passing leader in pro football history, with 79,816 passing yards. Along the way, I broke records set by Brett Favre, Warren Moon, Peyton Manning, Dan Marino, Philip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers, and Tom Brady. My name is Anthony Calvillo. Perhaps you’ve never heard of Anthony Calvillo. That…

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Hard Work

Dwayne Johnson said, “Success isn’t always about greatness. It’s about consistency. Consistent hard work leads to success. Greatness will come.” Calvin Coolidge said it like this: “Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers. It may not be difficult to store up in the mind a vast quantity of facts within a comparatively short time, but the ability…

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Certain Uncertainty

One of the marks of the Christian walk is uncertainty. The nature of the spiritual life is that we are certain of our uncertainty.  Scripture confirms this: “It has not yet been revealed what we shall be” (1 John 3:2). Let me say it like this. Certainty is the mark of common sense life, while…

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Owner’s Manual

The following was a phone conversation between the owner of his first computer and technical support. Support: “How may I help you?” Customer: “I’m having trouble with my computer.” Support: “What’s the problem?” Customer: “The screen is black.” Support: “Is your computer on?” Customer: “I don’t know.” Support: “Do you see the power button?” Customer:…

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Miracle Prayer

Let’s put God to the test today. Let’s pray for a miracle. May the psalmist’s words be ours: “You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples” (Psalm 77:14).  Hmm. Where should we start? We are mostly addicts here, so maybe we should start there. Let’s pray for a miracle…

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Saving Grain

This day in history, October 5, 1947, Harry Truman became the first president to give a televised presidential address from the White House. What was it that was so pressing as to demand such a historic speech? President Truman went to the airwaves 74 years ago today to ask the American people for real sacrifice.…

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Decisions, Decisions

The average person makes 35,000 decisions per day. And after we make decisions, our decisions make us. The Bible offers lots of help in this arena.  “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed” (Proverbs 15:22). “In all your ways, acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:6). You will…

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Keep Swinging

A reporter landed a rare interview with an aging Ted Williams. They were discussing the current state of hitting in the major leagues. The reporter asked Williams, widely considered the greatest hitter in history, how well he would hit against the current crop of pitchers. “I’d hit about .280,” said Williams. Reporter: “Just .280? You…

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No Full-Blown Addicts

“No one is a full-blown addict.” That unusual assertion is offered by Susan Farmer, with the Savannah NewDay Counseling Center of Savannah, Georgia. Farmer’s point is that for every addict, there is still room for things to progress even further into his disease.  What it took to satisfy the addict’s lust a year ago no…

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Can vs Should

Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. Think about your middle circle behaviors. Sure, you can watch certain movies, you can go to certain places, and you can look at certain social media posts. None of those will be a breach in sobriety, and they can seem pretty harmless in the moment. …

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B.L.A.S.T.

I recently revealed a survey from my Life Recovery Groups that found that the old anacronym H.A.L.T. was really not relevant. While most of the guys are triggered by anger, loneliness, and tiredness, no one said hunger was really a problem. And the groups agreed that two other triggers should be added to the list:…

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Beware of Dog!

A shopper entered a country store and saw a sign that read, “Beware of Dog!” Then he noticed a harmless hound dog sleeping in the middle of the floor. The man asked the proprietor, “Is that the dog I’m supposed to beware of?” The worker said, “Yep! That’s him!” The shopper said, “Your dog doesn’t…

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Baseball History

Okay, baseball fans, what happened on August 9, 1925, that never happened in any other game in history? I’ll give you a hint. The batter was Bobby Veach, of the New York Yankees. Veach compiled a lifetime batting average of .310, and from 1915 to 1922 had more RBI and extra base hits than Babe…

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The Normal Husband

A good friend recently sent me a picture of a sign that read, “My next husband will be normal.” Good luck with that. Alfred Adler, 18th century Austrian psychotherapist, quipped, “The only normal people are the ones you don’t know very well.” Here’s my challenge. Quit looking for the right spouse and become the right…

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A Trigger We Miss

I’ve written a lot on triggers lately. A friend who faithfully reads the Recovery Minute sent me an email, identifying a huge trigger which I have missed. “Victory,” he said. And he has a really good point. Through the years, I have noticed that a lot of relapse occurs on the heels of victory. A…

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Team Sport

Recovery is a team sport. Even in childhood, Jesus gave us an example of community. One day, his parents went looking for him, only to find him at church. The Bible says, “They found him in the temple. And he said to them, ‘Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?’”…

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Row Your Boat

“He made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side” (Mark 6:45). I’m guessing that when Jesus did that, his followers yawned, then mumbled to each other, “Here goes another boring boat ride; I wonder what Jesus will have for us on the other side of the lake.” Fast…

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The Next Chapter

Don’t be defeated by your defeats. Defeats are inevitable, but being defeated by defeats is a choice you don’t have to make.  Tom Landry said, “Something constructive comes from every defeat.” Zig Ziglar said it like this: “Failure is a detour, not a dead-end street.”  Here’s the lesson – You can’t rewrite history, but you…

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Worship First

Here’s an interesting John Piper quote to start your day: “Missions exist because worship doesn’t.” My initial response to that: Huh? Let’s unpack that. What I think Piper is saying is that when I fully engage God in worship, the result will be a changed life, one which will be used to impact the lives…

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A Generous God

We all know people who are very generous – with their time, talents, and treasure. We often credit them for having a “generous heart.” But put this quote in your pipe and smoke it. Giving does not begin with a generous heart, but with a generous God. We love God because he first loved us.…

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Alone

It is good to gather – in 12-Step meetings, church fellowships, and other groups. But is it possible that we have become what Francis Chan calls “professional gatherers”?  Read the following quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer. In Life Together, he wrote, “Whoever cannot be alone should beware of community. Such people will only do harm to…

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Smarter than Einstein

At the conclusion of the morning service, the congregation filed out of the building. As he passed by the pastor, one attendee told him, “Pastor, you must be smarter than Albert Einstein!” The pastor thanked the man for his praise, but for the next seven days, he wondered what the comment meant. So the next…

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Progress

Brene Brown said, “Perfection is the enemy of good.”  Our task is not to find perfection, but progress. After all, “There is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins” (Ecclesiastes 7:20).  Even the great apostle Paul admitted, “Not that I have already attained this or am already perfect, but I…

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Bald Eagles

A park ranger found a man in the woods, chewing on a cooked bald eagle. “You know that bird is an endangered species, don’t you? I’m going to have to bring you in.” The ranger brought the man to court, where the man pleaded for forgiveness. “Your honor, I was starving, and lost in the…

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El-Shaddai

Sometimes, blessing is followed by darkness. And darkness is followed by blessing. Consider the story of Abraham. God had promised him a son, a nation, and a legacy. But in the short run, Abraham got this: “When the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abraham; and behold, horror and great darkness fell…

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Baby Mops

For every person who (a) has an infant, and (b) wants clean floors, Kenji Kawakami is your hero. The Japanese inventor created “Baby Mops.” His creation is quite simple, but effective. The contraption consists of a bunch of tiny mops, which can be attached to the baby’s clothing, so that when the infant crawls across…

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One Impressive Young Man

The year was 1990. Hugh Gallagher entered an essay contest in search of a college scholarship. His assignment was to highlight his personal achievements from the first 18 years of his life. Among Hugh’s claims:  “I write award-winning operas. I often tread water for three days at a time. Using only a hoe and a…

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Tripping Over Me

In their song, Jesus, Friend of Sinners, Casting Crowns included the following words: “Jesus, friend of sinners, the truth’s become so hard to see. The world is on their way to you, but they’re tripping over me.” Too often, it is those of us who claim a Christian faith and who claim real sobriety who…

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Some Don’t Stick

In the middle of Jesus’ public ministry, we find this startling verse: “Many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him” (John 6:66). I would find that disheartening. My initial response would be to chase after those who had dropped out. Not so with Jesus. In the latter part of John 6, we…

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Start Here

J.I. Packer said, “What makes life worthwhile is having an objective.” What is your objective in life? Any kind of success, especially in the arena of recovery, must have a clear objective at its genesis. Notice the process suggested by wise Solomon: “Put your outdoor work in order and get your fields ready; after that;…

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TV or Microwave?

A blonde asked the salesman at Best Buy how much the TV that she was admiring would cost. “I don’t serve blondes,” the salesman replied. She returned the next day, having dyed her hair red, and asked the same clerk the same question. “I don’t serve blondes,” the man answered. The next day, the blonde…

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How We All Learn to Walk

How did you learn how to walk? I wasn’t there, but I’ve come to this conclusion: Walking is nothing more than controlled falling.  You learned to walk by learning to quit falling. It was only by not falling that you learned how to walk. No one walks without falling a few zillion times first. That’s…

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Doulothentes

Slavery is still prevalent throughout the world. About 46 million people in 167 different countries are slaves. In a spiritual sense, we are all slaves – to something or somebody. Freedom is simply the ability to decide whose slave you’re going to be.  Paul wrote to an entire church that had been set free. “But…

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84 Divided by 2

The Universities of North Carolina and Toronto did a fascinating study of 84 people. All 84 participants were given the same set of math problems, but half were placed in a bright room, while the other half were seated in a dark room. The ones in the dark room performed better on the test. Why?…

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The Bride’s One Complaint

R.C. Sproul wrote, “If Jesus has one complaint, it would be, ‘My bride never talks to me.’” Notice something Jesus said three times, just before offering us the Model Prayer.  “When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites” (Matthew 6:5). “When you pray, go into your room” (6:6). “When you pray, do not babble…

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Why Willpower Won’t Work

Willpower won’t work.  Dr. Dean Drosnes explains: “Why is surrender, not willpower, the key to recovery? The answer lies in brain science. Prolonged [instances of addictive behavior] damage the prefrontal cortex, which is involved in problem-solving, self-awareness, and controlled behavior. Addiction damages the very part of the brain that could enable the addict to stop.”…

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Giving

Let’s talk about giving. Start with this truth: Giving is not about what God wants from you, but what God wants for you.  Do you really believe Jesus had your best interests at heart when he said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35)? If you answered “yes,” than make your…

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Deliver the Cheese

One of the most famous stories in the Bible is that of David and Goliath. You will remember that as a child, David was anointed the future king of Israel. Not long after that, Goliath led the Philistines into battle against Israel. Of course, it was David who slayed the giant, paving the way for…

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The First Teddy Bear

President Theodore Roosevelt was an avid outdoorsman. In 1902, he was invited on a hunting trip in Mississippi, which he was delighted to join. When hunting dogs cornered a small bear, and several hunters managed to tie that bear to a tree, the scene was set for the President to make an easy kill. But…

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An American Hero

On September 20, 1965, American soldier Jerry Curtis was captured in Viet Nam. He would spend the next 7.5 years in prison, suffering from indescribable malnutrition, torture, and isolation. What saved him was a pinhole in his prison cell, through which a tiny light illuminated an otherwise dark existence. Through that light, Curtis found hope.…

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Farmer Jones

At a national conference for farmers, Farmer Jones introduced a new method of farming to the crowd. His assignment for the next year was to go around the country and teach hundreds of other farmers his new technique. At the convention the next year, Farmer Jones was brought onto the stage. They asked him if…

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What God Will Never Do

In a group call with several pastor friends, one of them made a profound statement that has stuck with me: “God will never give you a life where he’s not needed.”  Rick Warren said it like this: “You never know God is all you need until God is all you have.”  And Jesus declared, “Apart…

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Brown Apples

A four-year-old boy was eating an apple in the back seat of the car when he asked, “Daddy, why is my apple turning brown?” “Because,” his dad explained, “after you ate the skin off, the meat of the apple came into contact with the air, which caused it to oxidize, thus changing its molecular structure…

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Accountability

You’ll never get far in life – or recovery – without accountability.  Leadership expert Stephen Covey said it like this: “Accountability breeds responsibility.” In other words, if you want to live responsibly, you must first live accountably. (Yes, “accountably” is a word.) The Book of Ezekiel tells a great story of accountability. God made the…

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Facing Fear

I’m afraid of heights, foul balls at a baseball game, and most Mexican restaurants.  What are you afraid of? We all have our unique fears. And that’s okay. It’s what we do with those fears that matters. Canadian author and psychologist John White said, “True courage does not consist of the absence of fear, but…

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Church vs. Casino

Question: What’s the difference between a prayer at church and a prayer at the casino? Answer: The guy who prays in the casino does so with much more intensity.  Unfortunately, the only time most of us engage in prayer is when we are desperate for healing, forgiveness, or a miracle. I love these words, which…

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The New Colossus

You may not be familiar with poet Emma Lazarus. And you may not recognize the title of her most famous work, The New Colossus. But if you are from America, you will be very familiar with the following words from that poem. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.…

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24-Hour Challenge

Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, author of Words That Hurt, Words That Heal, states that he asks audiences whether they can go 24 hours without saying any unkind words about or to anyone. Invariably, very few people answer “yes.”  Here’s my challenge. Commit to going the next 24 hours without doing any of the following: Criticizing your…

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Trash Day

Dr. Joyce Brothers mused, “Marriage is not just a spiritual communion. It is also remembering to take out the trash.” If you are a sex addict, you need to take out the trash. Solomon said, “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy” (Proverbs 28:13). Your…

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Trust

I recently preached at The Church of the Cross, in Bradenton, Florida, where Pastor Stan Pavlovich is one of my closest friends. Before the second of three services, I met a dear lady named Mary. Mary is an amazing woman. This 87-year-old Navy veteran of the Korean War has many talents, including baking. Mary gave…

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Ranking Top 6 Triggers

The topic in my seven Freedom Groups a few weeks ago was “Triggers.” As part of the exercise, I had the guys in each group tell us what their primary trigger is, that makes them want to act out. The list began with the traditional H.A.L.T. triggers (hungry, angry, lonely, tired). I added two more:…

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Chopsticks

A close friend returned from an extended mission trip in Asia. He came home with great stories and deepened faith. And one other thing. A pair of chopsticks.  Talk about annoying. Every time we had lunch at a Chinese restaurant, he ate everything but the soup with chopsticks. And he wasn’t even good at it.…

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Restore Your Losses

There’s this funny thing about the Christian life. The more you help others, the better off you are. Let’s apply this principle to prayer. We find this interesting little verse toward the end of the Book of Job. Despite Job’s great losses and pain, the rest of his life became the best of his life.…

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Bless God!

There is this little verse in the New Testament that we often miss. “Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink’” (John 4:7). When Jesus made this request of the woman at the well, he was teaching us a bigger lesson.  How many times have we been expecting Jesus Christ to quench our thirst when…

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B.S.

There is an old acronym in recovery called H.A.L.T. It reminds us that we are often triggered when we are (a) hungry, (a) angry, (c) lonely, and (d) tired. Let me add two more: B.S. We are at risk when we are bored and stressed. 1. Boredom We get into trouble if we aren’t into…

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The Bachelor

Next season, The Bachelor will resume its 20-year run on network television. Because some years have had multiple seasons, this will mark the 25th season for the top-rated show. As you probably know, the premise is that a man picks his wife from among several women who essentially audition for the job each week, in…

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Are You Really an Addict?

Many of the men I meet ask the predictable question, “How do I know if I really have an addiction?” Let me suggest four criteria for any addiction. A need for more of the behavior to achieve the desired effect. Feelings of withdrawal when unable to engage in the addictive behavior. Repeated unsuccessful attempts to…

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Death of a President

On this day in history, 1875, Senator Andrew Johnson died at the home of his daughter. Yes, you read that correctly – Senator Andrew Johnson. You see, the first president to be impeached also became the first (and only) president to serve in the United States Senate – after his presidency.  On December 29, 1998,…

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Betrayal Pain

Guys, if you think your sexual betrayal isn’t hurting anybody, read on. Barbara Steffens reports, in “The Traumatic Nature of Disclosure for Wives of Sexual Addicts,” that a survey of 63 wives of self-identified sex addicts found that 70 percent of these women met most criteria for a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder, and 71…

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Box of Chocolates

“My mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” (Forrest Gump, 1994) A good example of a “box of chocolates” occurred for me when I attended an SA meeting a couple of years ago. That night, a newcomer was present. I talked to him for a…

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Cherry-Colored Cats

A man from Vermont wrote to circus owner P.T. Barnum, offering a cherry-colored cat for $100. Barnum, always on the lookout for rare attractions for his “Greatest Show on Earth,” replied that he would send the money if the man guaranteed the cat was genuine. When Barnum received a written guarantee, he sent the money.…

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Killing Weeds

In our neighborhood, the mowing crew hired by the homeowners’ association took the easy way out. Rather than weed-eating around all the trees and mailboxes, they sprayed some kind of poison on the grass, killing the weeds. Not only did this look bad – dead grass around the trees and mailboxes – a dog in…

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Day of Atonement

It only happened once a year. The high priest entered the Most Holy Place of the tenth day of the seventh month of Israel’s lunar calendar. It was the Day of Atonement.  The priest would remove his ornate robe and put on simple linen garments, then sacrifice a bull for his own sins and the…

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The Key to Failure

The key to failure is to try to please everybody.  Pulitzer Prize winner Herbert Bayard Swope said it like this: “I can’t tell you the formula for success, but I can give you a formula for failure: try to please everyone.” Jesus was anything but a people-pleaser. Case in point: Jesus healed many people, but…

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#1 Reason People Fail

There is a simple reason many of us don’t reach our goal of recovery – we quit too soon. Thomas Edison was right: “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” Scaling Mount Recovery will be the hardest climb of your life. There…

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Wiley Post

On this day in history – July 22, 1933 – Wiley Post became the first man to fly solo around the world in his plywood monocoque aircraft, the Winnie Mae. It took seven days, 19 hours, which was 21 hours less than his previous record which he had set in 1931 with a navigator, Harold…

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A Worthy Goal

Two months ago, the Ohio legislature considered a bill that would criminalize “distracted driving.” During a Senate hearing on the subject, a state senator participated in the meeting via Zoom – while driving in his car. Of course, given the topic of discussion, the senator didn’t want his colleagues to know that he was driving…

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Exceptional Moments

Never let an experience with God come before God himself. Don’t live for the exceptional moments. These unusual touches of glory are surprises, which God only brings our way when he sees that we are no longer in danger of being led away by them.  The extravagant can lead to complacency and self-assurance.  Oswald Chambers…

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Not Complicated

I love this simple promise from God: “I will give your life to you as a prize in all places, wherever you go” (Jeremiah 45:5). It is when we abandon our own plans and dreams for God’s plans and dreams that we find glorious freedom. Abandonment means to refuse yourself the luxury of asking any…

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Want Great Things?

The prophet asked, “Do you seek great things for yourself?” (Jeremiah 45:5). I suspect all of us would answer this question with a resounding “yes.” But true happiness does not come from seeking things. It comes from seeking God.  Oswald Chambers said, “There is nothing easier than getting into the right relationship with God, unless…

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Independence Day

For those living in America, today is Independence Day, which marks the birth of the nation. When I celebrate today, two thoughts come to mind. “Our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20). “What the people want is very simple – they want an America as good as its promise” (Barbara Jordan). We have daily readers…

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Golf Lesson

A man loved to play golf. But one Saturday, he returned home from a game with a friend much earlier than expected. His wife asked him why his game ended so soon. The man answered, “Would you want to play with someone who whines about every shot, complains constantly about the course, and makes obnoxious…

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Pa Won’t Like It!

A farm boy accidentally overturned his wagon load of corn. His neighbor heard him scream in frustration, and invited him over for lunch.  The farm boy said, “That’s mighty nice of you to invite me over, but Pa won’t like it.” After a delicious lunch, the man said to the farm boy, “Before lunch, you…

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Arkansas Hunters

A couple of Arkansas hunters were deep into the woods when one of the men suddenly collapsed. His friend immediately called 911. “I think my friend is dead! What do I do?” The operator tried to calm the man down. “Stay calm. The first thing you need to do is make sure your friend is…

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Choppy Waters

“Joab defected to Adonijah, though he had not defected to Absalom” (I Kings 2:28). Joab had withstood his greatest test, remaining faithful to King David by not following after the fascinating leadership of upstart Absalom. Yet, toward the end of his life, Joab turned away to follow the less attractive leader, Adonijah. He overcame to…

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Keep Playing

A pastor, a doctor, and an engineer went out for a round of golf. It wasn’t long before they caught up to a group playing ahead of them, that was very slow. When they asked the groundskeeper why the other group was so slow, they were told that all three golfers were blind. The pastor,…

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The Man Who Died Twice

God cares for you enough to never waste your pain. A good friend recently told me that he hopes God can use his past, pain included. I assured him that this is God’s precise plan. God never lets our pain go to waste. Pain is what C.S. Lewis called “God’s great unwanted gift.” Remember a…

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Stolen Tents

Two philosophers went on a camping trip. Tucked away in their sleeping bags for the night, one of them asked the other, “When you look up, what do you see?” His buddy said, “I see thousands of stars.” “And what is the deeper meaning of that to you?” “I think it means somebody stole our…

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High Places

“He has a good heart.”  We hear that a lot. But is it the “heart” that really matters? Said another way, if the heart is good, but our actions don’t align with the desires of our heart, what good is it? We find this revealing description of a little-known king named Asa. “The high places…

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Gunsmoke

Gunsmoke was the greatest western in television history. And Matt Dillon was the best U.S. Marshal ever. But during his 20-year career, Matt was shot 56 times, knocked unconscious 29 times, stabbed three times, and poisoned once. Imagine getting nearly killed on the job nearly five times a year for 20 years. And you think…

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Married at 100

Larry and Henry were two 80-year-old friends who met for lunch the first Monday of each month. One day, before they even sat down at the table, Larry turned to Henry with a question.  “Who was that cute girl I saw you with at church yesterday?” Henry: “That ‘cute girl’ is my new wife.” Larry:…

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Free Concert

A couple had their car stolen while shopping at a mall. While they were at the police station reporting the crime, the car was returned to the mall parking lot with a note on the windshield. “I am so sorry for taking your car. Let me explain. While walking through the parking lot, my wife…

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Bad Reviews

Beth and I recently ate at a particular restaurant, largely because of its dozens of positive online reviews.   Those reviews were wrong.  Charles Spurgeon said, “A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” Dishonest reviews about a restaurant can cost you a nice night out. Dishonest…

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This Day

Good choices have good consequences. And bad choices have bad consequences. C.S. Lewis wrote, “If man had never made bad choices, there would be no hell.” The bad choices of sexual addiction have resulted in a myriad of consequences: broken relationship with God, sleepless nights, loss of marriage, lack of spiritual power, absence of authenticity,…

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Dumb Mr. Lewis

On April 4, 2019, Michael Casey Lewis was booked by the St. Lucie County (Florida) Sheriff’s Office for grand theft. He bonded out of jail and was released the same day.  Immediately after his release, Lewis burglarized several cars in the jail parking lot.  I think we can agree that Mr. Lewis cannot be considered…

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A New Plan

There are a lot of interesting strategies that have been implemented in the fight against lust. Some have been found to be more successful than others. And it is my opinion that pretty much any plan that works is a good plan.  But here’s one you may have not thought of before. In the words…

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Prison

Three men were each sentenced to 20-year prison terms. Each was allowed to bring one item into their cell, which they could keep for the entire 20 years. The first man requested a stack of books, the second requested his wife, and the third man asked for an unlimited supply of cigarettes.  At the end…

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Name Him

Name him. He was one of just 13 athletes to play both Major League baseball and for the National Basketball Association. He played for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, and Boston Celtics. He was the first player in NBA history to shatter a backboard while dunking the basketball.  If you guessed Kevin Joseph Aloysius…

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Music Trivia

Let’s play music trivia. Who was the first American Idol winner? Whom did Paul McCartney credit for teaching him everything he knew? Who was the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Who is the only country artist to have a Top-20 hit for six consecutive decades? What was Elvis Presley’s…

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An Apple a Day

We say, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” But no one really eats an apple a day. We say a lot of things – we’re going to join a gym, eat healthy, or spend less time playing silly video games. Many of us say we love our church, but a smaller percentage of…

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You Already Have Enough

When God told Gideon to lead his people to victory over the Midianites, Gideon complained that he was the weakest man in the weakest family in the weakest tribe of Israel. Gideon essentially said, “Get someone else!”  To that, God said, “Go in the strength you already have” (Judges 6:14). That is life-changing. “Go in…

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Good Tears

Hard times are a part of life. And they are certainly a part of recovery. I love this quote I came across the other day: “Laughter means nothing unless there have been tears” (Jack Hyles). Often, these tears are the result of bad decisions. A study cited by Psychology Today found that most people fail…

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Smuggling

A man approached the border on his bicycle, carrying two heavy bags. The border patrol suspected drugs, but when they opened the bags, they only found sand. The next day, the man was back, crossing the border on a bicycle, carrying two bags. And once again, the border patrol checked the bags. Still, just sand. …

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Turning Back

It’s one of the saddest verses in the Bible: “From that time many of his disciples went back and walked with him no more” (John 6:66).  In the recovery world, we call that relapse.  We find the following data on relapse from the Recovery Village. Following treatment, 80% suffer relapse within the first year. After…

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Innocence

Purity is not innocence. If you define your sexual sobriety by zero thoughts of fantasy, no second looks, and only the purest of motives, prepare to reset your sobriety date – often. Purity is not innocence. This is to excuse any of the above. You absolutely should strive every day to overcome fantasy, second looks,…

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Lawnmower

When Bob’s lawnmower quit on him, he called the repair shop. He asked the man at the shop what he recommended.  “We always suggest you try to fix the lawnmower yourself first. Only bring it to us if that doesn’t work.” Bob responded, “Wow! Thanks for the tip. But does your boss know you’re turning…

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Afraid

Here’s something you don’t think about when you become a follower of Christ: “As they followed him they were afraid” (Mark 10:32). It’s what Oswald Chambers called “the discipline of dismay.” Charles Stanley wrote, “Those who have never trembled from head to toe will never know God’s perfect love.” I suggest we do two things:…

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Weak Is Good

In his song, Weak Man, Leeland Mooring repeated this line throughout: “I’ll be weak for You are strong.” Dr. Travis Myers, professor of church history at Bethlehem College and Seminary, offers three ways in which God uses our weaknesses. Weakness reminds us that our life depends on God. Weakness reminds us that we deserve wrath,…

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Millard Fillmore

On March 8, 1874, former President Millard Fillmore died from a stroke at his home in Buffalo, New York. His last words were spoken to his doctor, who had just fed him his last meal: “The nourishment is palatable.” Fillmore is buried near his home in Buffalo, and his grave can be easily viewed by…

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Snatched from the Fire

Speaking of substance abuse, Joanne Zuhl wrote, “Even if addiction isn’t what puts people on the streets, it is often what keeps them there.”  Let’s apply that to any addiction, including sex. For many of us, regardless of how we found our way into the ditch, we are there, and we struggle mightily to dig…

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Truth

In an old episode of Bonanza, Ben Cartwright said, “I don’t have anything against education, as long as it doesn’t interfere with your thinking.” That’s how a lot of us think. We are all in for truth – as long as it fits our narrative.  I agree with the sage philosopher of the past generation,…

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Your Stash

I read about a bank robbery which resulted in a two-week trial for the prime suspect. While most observers were convinced of the man’s guilt, the jury foreman announced the verdict – “Not guilty.” The judge then asked the defendant if he had any questions. The man replied, “Only one question, your honor. Does this…

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Neuroadaptation

In his groundbreaking book, Drowning in Screen Time, my good friend David Murrow writes, “Photographic pornography has existed only since the mid-1800s and was made illegal in the United States in 1873. Vice laws were relaxed after World War II, and Hugh Hefner democratized and upscaled porn with the debut of Playboy magazine in December,…

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Porn Justified

Sadly, modern culture has degenerated to the point that many are now defending the indefensible.  Writing in Salon, Anna Pulley said, “Unlike physical sex, watching porn spreads no diseases, leads to zero pregnancies, and doesn’t engage with vicious judgments. Plus, using porn to satisfy one’s sexual needs is safe, free-to-cheap, and convenient. And it can…

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Get Real

Sex addiction is an intimacy disorder. Ron Deal writes, “For many, sex has become a hiding place, a behavior that presents the appearance of intimacy, but is really striving for self-protection.” Sadly, true transparency, genuineness, and authenticity are not descriptors of many of us. Chris Rock framed it like this: “When someone meets you, they…

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Headwinds

There is a stream of theology running amok that says faith in God means never having any problems. Tell that to the Apostle Paul. Reflecting on his trip across the Mediterranean Sea, Paul said, “The winds were against us” (Acts 27:4). That particular storm lasted for two weeks, leading to a shipwreck. The God of…

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The Driver

When I was a kid, our family drove great distances on vacations from Texas – to California, Tennessee, and Ohio. I often slept for hours in the crowded car. How could I do this? It’s simple. I knew the driver. With Dad at the wheel, I always felt safe.  I have found recovery to be…

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To Know God

There is a line from AA that reads, “It was only a matter of being willing to believe in a Power greater than myself. Nothing more was required of me to make my beginning.” A knowledge of God is foundational for long-term recovery. J.I. Packer said it so well: “Once you become aware that the…

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Simple

From my 31 years as a pastor and eight years of recovery work, I have come to this conclusion. Most of us are educated far beyond our level of obedience.  I often tell clients they won’t fall because they don’t know what to do, but because they don’t do what they know. It is important…

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God Sees

What you see in the future, God sees in the past.  Let me say that again. What you see in the future, God sees in the past. That’s why he promises, “I will guide you with my eye” (Psalm 32:8). God sees what is coming before it comes.  What you see in the future, God…

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God Sees

What you see in the future, God sees in the past.  Let me say that again. What you see in the future, God sees in the past. That’s why he promises, “I will guide you with my eye” (Psalm 32:8). God sees what is coming before it comes.  What you see in the future, God…

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Tightrope

On June 15, 2012, Nik Wallenda crossed Niagara Falls on a tightrope. That’s pretty impressive. I’ve met Nik. He’s an impressive guy and a devoted follower of Christ. But he wasn’t the first to cross the Falls. On June 30, 1859, Charles Blondin became the first to complete this unbelievable task. And he did it…

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Unattainable

William Howard wrote, “The future belongs to the man who sets his sights on what is humanly unattainable.”  There are several dreams I once found unattainable in my life:  Saving my marriage Life after pastoring 2,302 consecutive days of sexual sobriety (as of today) Here’s the good news: we serve a God who turns the…

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When Life’s a Wreck

Psalm 46:1-3 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” God doesn’t promise that there will be no storms.…

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Sanctification

Life for the believer is a process: Regeneration Sanctification Glorification  In regeneration, we are born again. In glorification, we meet God face to face. It’s that middle step we are in now.  Paul wrote, “This is the will of God, your sanctification” (1 Thessalonians 4:3). J. C. Ryle takes us a little deeper. “The means…

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Daily

G.K. Chesterton said, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and left untried.”  But following Jesus isn’t just hard work. It is daily work.  Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). Catch…

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Conor McGregor

There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance. MMA legend Conor McGregor said, “My success isn’t a result of arrogance. It’s the result of belief.”  Belief is good. Arrogance is not.  Pastor Sam Rainer said it like this: “Arrogance is not a good vehicle for the Gospel.” So what’s the problem with arrogance? From…

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Presumptions

A new CEO demanded hard work from his employees. One day, he saw a guy standing by the food table, doing nothing. He yelled, “You’re fired! Get out of here!” Then he turned to one of the other men and said, “Smith, see what happens to slackers? Tell me, in your own words, what just…

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Hole Digger

Two guys were working for the city. One would dig a hole, and the other would come behind him and fill it back up. A bystander was watching in disbelief. He said to the hole digger, “I am impressed by your hard work, the way you dig each hole. But why does your partner come…

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Name This Place

It opened in 1992. It is large enough to hold 32 Boeing 747s. It has a roller coaster and a 74-foot Ferris wheel. Also home to a 1.2 million gallon aquarium, a wedding chapel, and 50 restaurants, it is visited by over 40 million guests each year, making it the most visited place in the…

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Who Would Have Known?

Who would have known?  Cows don’t like the sound of cowbells. The sound increases the cow’s heart rate and creates anxiety. A Swiss study found that the constant sound of cowbells negatively affects the cow’s grazing and dietary habits.  Who would have known?  In the earliest days of baseball, umpires called balls and strikes from…

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There’s Still Hope

Dr. Frances Cohen Praver writes, “Rather than desiring a sexual partner, the sex addict craves a sexual object – his fix.” God commanded man to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28). And he created the perfect way to do that. We call it “sex.” And when limited to the marriage bed, sex is a wonderful…

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The Wedding Cake

A dietician was addressing a crowd who wanted to learn how to eat in a healthier way. After his speech, he took questions from the audience.  One person asked, “What food causes more pain and suffering years after its consumption?”  Before the speaker had time to respond, a wise guy yelled out: “That’s easy –…

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The Tongue

The United States military is the world’s #1 purchaser of explosives. Coming in at #2 is – ready for this? – Disney World. Explosives are either good or bad depending on how they are used. The tongue is that way. James said that the tongue can bring great blessing or destruction, depending on how it…

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The First YouTube Video

The very first YouTube video was an 18-second clip called “Me at the Zoo.” It was uploaded by the site’s co-founder, Jawed Karim, on April 23, 2005. The video was first recorded by Karim’s high school friend, Yakov Lapitsky, at the San Diego Zoo, featuring Karim in front of the elephant habitat. Major achievements often…

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Samuel J. Tilden

The 2020 election was without controversy compared to what happened in 1876. You’ve probably heard of Rutherford B. Hayes, who won the election. But you need to know about his opponent, Samuel J. Tilden. Winning 52 percent of the vote, Tilden became the first – and only – presidential candidate in U.S. history to win…

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Quiet, Please!

Mother Teresa: “God cannot be found in noise.” A study in the journal Heart in 2006 found that silence can relieve tension in just two minutes.  In another study of 100 men and women who went on a silent retreat, Conor O’Shea found that simply being quiet before the Lord led each person to experience…

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God Has a Plan

God has a plan. No matter the turmoil and pain you may have caused with your addiction, God can turn it for good. Peter Marshall wrote, “God will not allow suffering to come into your life without first devising a plan on how to use it.” There is no amount of suffering that is greater…

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Twenty $1 Bills

A lady lost her purse in a shopping mall. It was found by a young boy, who was happy to return it. When the woman looked through her purse, she found something odd. “When I lost my purse, there was a $20 bill in it. Now there are twenty $1 bills.” The boy replied, “That’s…

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Fast and Furious

There’s a great line from the movie, The Fast and the Furious: “I live my life a quarter mile at a time.”  Dr. Eric Maisel writes, “Recovery requires daily exercises and paying daily attention to your life’s purposes.” If you desire long-term sobriety, I offer this advice – Stop it! Let me explain. While long-term…

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Life Jackets

As a storm raged, the captain realized his ship was sinking fast. He called out, “Anyone here know how to pray?” One man stepped forward. “Aye, Captain, I know how to pray.” “Good,” said the captain. “You pray while the rest of us put on our life jackets. We’re one short.”  In life – and…

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Where Football Began

What we in America call “football” has its roots in European rugby and what we call “soccer.” Imported to the states in the 1800s, these games evolved into what would eventually become the National Football League, which recently celebrated its 55th annual Super Bowl. Tom Brady has won 50 of those Super Bowls. The modern…

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Charles Reilly

On this day in history – April 29, 1892, Charlie Reilly did something that had never been done in a baseball game before. He was baseball’s first pinch hitter. We all need a pinch hitter at some point.  At some point in every hitter’s career, they come out for a pinch hitter. There are times…

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Humiliations

Writing The True Christian Life, John Calvin said, “Warned by such evidences of their spiritual illness, believers profit by their humiliations. Robbed of their foolish confidence in the flesh, they take refuge in the grace of God. And when they have done so, they experience the nearness of the divine protection which is to them…

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When They Were Alone

I recently came upon this gem from the Book that bears my name. “When they were alone, Jesus explained all things to his disciples” (Mark 4:34).  Think on that for a second or two . . .  Okay, time’s up. Allow me to expound. The disciples had a front row seat to Jesus’ miracles, healings,…

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Keep Punching

Relapse is a trickle that becomes a stream that becomes a river. The key is to catch it while it is still just a trickle. Any of us is susceptible to relapse. Take this verse to heart: “Let him who thinks he stands take heed, lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12).  In my book, Life…

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Hogan’s Hero

Bob Crane played Colonel Hogan in the 1960s comedy series, Hogan’s Heroes. Crane lived the life of a faithful family man. He was married and had five children.  But there was more to Crane’s life than his fans, friends, and family knew. He was living the compartmentalized life of a sex addict. On June 29,…

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Manna

Your past performance is no guarantee of future success. If Jesus was sitting there with you in place of your device, he would say what he has already said: “Take no thought about tomorrow, for tomorrow will take thought about the things of itself. Sufficient to the day is the trouble thereof” (Matthew 6:34). Translation:…

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Mess Up, Clean Up

God loves the worst of us on our worst days just as much as he loved Billy Graham on his best day. Oswald Chambers wrote, “The miracle of the redemptive reality of God is that the worst of the vilest offenders can never exhaust the depths of his love.” The great apostle said it like…

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How to Become a Billionaire

Let’s start today with some financial advice. I’m going to give you one tip for financial planning. If done successfully, it will guarantee your financial security and that of your children and grandchildren. Ready? Here it is.  Become Steven Spielberg’s beneficiary. Why? Because Spielberg has the most expensive life insurance policy in the world –…

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Get Outta Dodge!

Ever hear the phrase, “Get out of Dodge?” From whence does that come? In the late 1800s, cowboys often moved their cattle north from Texas into Kansas territory. This took them through a town called Dodge, where legendary lawman Wyatt Earp helped keep the peace.  They made a TV show out of it, called Gunsmoke,…

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Pumped

A man was walking across the prairie when he saw a farm in the distance. And on the farm was a man pumping a well. As the traveler got closer, he was amazed at the consistent, effortless work of the man pumping the well. Then, when he got closer, the picture became clear. Beneath the…

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King James Living

A few weeks ago, I was privileged to speak at the memorial service of my lifelong pastor, Dr. Cecil Sewell, Jr., who went to be with the Lord at the age of 84. His pastor was kind enough to invite me to attend his church the morning of the memorial service. What I found in…

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Joe DiMaggio

One year, Joe DiMaggio missed much of the season with a minor injury. He saw this as a good opportunity to sit with his son, Joe, Jr., at a ballgame. So one day, rather than sit in the dugout, DiMaggio wore dark glasses and a ball cap, while sitting with his son in the stands…

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Where You Should Die

President John Quincy Adams was a man of firsts. He was the first son of a president to become president himself. He was the first president to serve in Congress after his presidency – for 18 years. He was the first president whose body was transported to its burial place by train. And he was…

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Stephen King

On June 19, 1999, author Stephen King was taking an afternoon walk along a familiar road near his home in Maine. A driver named Bryan Smith, distracted by a dog in his van, was driving the same route. He swerved to the side of the road and struck King, sending him 14 feet through the…

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Get Your Own Dirt!

A scientist told God, “We no longer need you. We have advanced to the point that we can create anything we need with our own ingenuity.”  God said, “You want to put that to a test?” The scientist said, “Sure. What do you have in mind?” God said, “Let’s each make a man, just like…

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Together

Compromise is a key ingredient to a successful marriage. I love the example of Senator Rob Portman, who said, “My wife became a Republican when I became a Methodist.” The marriage relationship is, of course, unique among all relationships. God spoke to men through his prophet Malachi. He described the woman as “your companion and…

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The Ohio River

The Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers join together in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to form the Ohio River. If you want to understand the Ohio River, you must first take a look at the Allegheny and the Monongahela.  Jesus said, “It is what comes out of a person that defiles him” (Mark 7:15). Medical News Today identified the…

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Worship

According to the Journal of Religion and Health (August 21, 2019), 73 percent of addiction treatment programs in the U.S. include a spirituality-based element. There’s a reason for that.  The Bible is full of examples of the benefits of a spiritual connection for those seeking to improve their personal lives. We read this account of…

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BID Disease

Have you heard of BID disease? That stands for Body Integrity Dysphoria. Only a very small number of people have it, maybe 300 in recorded history. BID, which strikes mostly men, causes the patient to have an overwhelming sense that a certain limb on his body doesn’t belong. And its effects can be catastrophic. A…

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Foundation

Early in recovery, we attend a 12-Step meeting and are humbled as we hear others speak of their longtime sobriety – one, two, five, or even ten years. What we need to recognize is the need to celebrate early victories. There is a biblical model for this. In the Old Testament we read of the…

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Survival

If you ever find yourself in a sinking car, in the arms of a bear, or jumping from a building into a dumpster from three stories up, there is a book written just for you. It’s called The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook, and it certainly deserves an esteemed place in anyone’s library.  At There’s Still…

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When God Says No

A common train of thought is that if we do our spiritual disciplines, go to church, and live a good life, we will be rewarded by God meeting all of our hearts’ desires.  Not so fast! Case in point – St. Peter. One day, when all was well, he made a simple request of the…

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Seven Years of Marriage

Your wife has a cold. This is how you respond, each year of marriage. Year 1: “Sugar babe, I’m worried about your sniffles. I’ve made an appointment for you to see the head of surgery at St. Luke’s. I’ll take you this afternoon.” Year 2: “Darling, I don’t like the sound of that. I’ve asked…

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The Green Room

When someone is a guest on a talk show, before going out, they wait in the “green room.” Before a band takes the stage, they gather in the “green room.” Before a politician offers a speech, he waits off stage, out of sight, in the – you guessed it – “green room.” So why is…

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Love vs Live

“And this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God” (John 17:3). There is this dichotomy in life. On one side we have what we love, but on the other side we have how we live. For those mired in addiction, this becomes a daily battle.  I love my God, yet…

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The Elevator

Bubba drove his family into the big city for the first time. Their first stop was a four-star, 20-story hotel. As they entered the lobby, an elderly woman with a cane entered an elevator. Of course, Bubba and his family had never seen an elevator before, so they just assumed the lady was walking into…

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A Strong Hand

I came across an interesting quote the other day: “Sometimes the most loving thing we can do for someone who has had a relapse is to not sound loving.” The prophet said it like this: “The Lord spoke to me with a strong hand” (Isaiah 8:11).  You know someone who is struggling in their addiction.…

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Oswald Chambers

In His Utmost for My Highest, Oswald Chambers writes, “God providentially produces a crisis where we have to decide – for or against. That moment becomes a great crossroads in our lives. If a crisis has come to you on any front, surrender your will to Jesus absolutely and irrevocably.” When a crisis hits, you…

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Tom Dula

Tom Dula lived deep in the North Carolina Appalachians. Dula was known as a ladies’ man, and he had an on-again, off-again relationship with a woman named Anne Foster. The problem was that Foster was married to another man. Rather than break off the relationship, Dula continued to see Ms. Foster, as well as her…

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How to Settle an Election

There are different ways to settle elections. What we saw in the presidential vote a few months ago continues to lead to dissention on both sides. Maybe they have figured out a better plan in Dickinson, Texas. The Houston suburb of about 22,000 citizens held a mayoral race in November. No candidate received 50 percent…

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Stolen Bikes

Have you ever tried to manipulate God? Maybe you asked God for something, but then you set out to help him answer your prayer. Comedian Emo Philips said, “I asked God for a bike, but I know God doesn’t work that way. So I stole a bike and asked God for forgiveness.” While I don’t…

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Compelling Goal

One of my truisms in life is this: seek answers and you will be frustrated; seek God and answers will find you. J.I. Packer said, “There is no more compelling goal than knowing God.” And the prophet said, “I desired the knowledge of God more than burn offerings” (Hosea 6:6). You will never find lasting…

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Future

You have a past. But far more importantly, you have a future. And in order to have a better future, you need to quit trying to have a better past. Author Jason Versey observed, “Even a spineless anthropod sheds what’s no longer useful and leaves it behind.” I have come to believe that our past…

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Ducks

Where we live in Florida, we see a lot of ducks. They are in the pond behind our house, waddling around the neighborhood, and too often, walking across the street. And that’s where it becomes a problem. Walking across a street where there are a lot of drivers over 90 (the median age of Floridians…

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Puzzles

Beth and I have reached the age when we enjoy things like collecting shells on the beach. We still wait up for the news before we go to bed. But instead of watching the 10:00 news, we watch the 6:00 news. And one other sign of our age – we love to work a good…

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The Truth

It was one of the few movies I remember watching in a theater with my mom. The year was 1992. The movie was A Few Good Men. Mom’s favorite actor, Jack Nicholson, played the role of Jessup. And he uttered this most famous line – “You can’t handle the truth!” I offer the following for…

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Flawless

The MercyMe song from 2014 has become one that I listen to multiple times each week. I suggest you watch it on YouTube, as the visuals are most powerful. Here are a few of the lyrics. No matter the bumps No matter the bruises No matter the scars Still the truth is The cross has…

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Don’t Forget God

You will never find recovery apart from your Higher Power. Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “At this moment of lust God loses all reality. Satan does not fill us with hatred of God, but with forgetfulness of God.” Many of us have become what Craig Groeschel calls a “Christian atheist.” We believe in God, but when it…

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What No One Else Sees

2 Kings 5:1 reads, “Naaman was commander of the army of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master, and was highly regarded. He was a mighty man of valor. But Naaman had leprosy.” A person with leprosy would not be allowed in public, and everything he touched was considered cursed.…

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More than Compliance

The average person of 2021 meets as many people in one year as our grandparents met in their lifetimes. With so many ways to connect with others, no one is alone. But many are lonely. That’s where Jesus steps in. He was rightly accused of being a “friend of sinners” (Luke 7:34). And Jesus told…

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Touch

It was New Year’s Day of 1907. A staggering 8,150 people lined up at the White House to shake the hand of President Theodore Roosevelt. That is a presidential handshaking record that stands to this day. There is no substitute for a physical touch. In the 1990s, two scientists traveled to Romania to examine the…

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Jefferson’s Flaw

Thomas Jefferson was a man of amazing brilliance and wide-ranging achievement. Not only was he the author of the Declaration of Independence and president of the United States, he was also a philosopher, diplomat, inventor, architect, and musician. But there was one thing Jefferson wasn’t good at. Managing money. Throughout his life, Thomas Jefferson spent…

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Bridge Jumping

Bob was walking across a bridge when he saw a man named Jim, about to jump to his death. “Don’t jump!” said Bob. “Why not?” asked Jim. “I don’t have any friends.” Bob: “Are you religious?” Jim: “Yes.” Bob: “Me too! What denomination?” Jim: “Baptist.” Bob: “Me too! Southern Baptist or American Baptist?” Jim: “Southern.”…

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Ain’t That a Shame

You must learn to stare shame in the face, then walk away. Jay Stringer writes, “My research found that shame was the most consistent key driver of unwanted sexual behavior. Shame convinces us that we are unwanted, and we pursue behavior that confirms it. To find freedom, disarm the power of shame.” Andy Casagrande, the…

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Five Keys to Accountability

There are three keys to sobriety: desperation, surrender, and community. And a part of community is accountability. You need to have someone in your life whom you hold accountable for their sobriety, and you need to be accountable to someone else. The Bible says it like this: “Set the believers an example in speech, in…

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The Artist

An artist asked the gallery owner if there had been any recent interest in his paintings, which were on display. The gallery owner said one man had asked if the paintings would appreciate after the artist’s death. “What did you tell him?” asked the artist. “I told him they would appreciate in value, and he…

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Destination Unknown

There’s a little verse in the New Testament that reads, “Abraham went out, not knowing where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8). Notice three things. 1. Abraham didn’t wait until he had all the facts before he stepped out. Life is about direction, not destination. When God directs, start walking, whether you can see the finish…

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Plane Dumb

Jim decided to finally face his fear of heights. On his 50th birthday, he decided to jump out of an airplane. After the necessary training, Jim was in the plane. As the plane neared the point where Jim would jump, he turned to his instructor and asked a question. “What if my parachute doesn’t open?…

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Dual Addictions

The Bible says, “The weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:4). Notice that word, “strongholds.” Plural. More than one. And you can insert “addictions” in its place. Addictions are strongholds, and many of us have more than one. For example, a study of…

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Futility

Let’s talk about one of the demons that can bring you down the hardest – futility. When you start believing the lie that recovery is futile, that your periods of relapse have rendered you hopeless, that is when you are in real trouble. Dr. Jay Stringer writes, “When futility goes unaddressed, it will eventually taunt…

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Past & Present

Do you ever feel stuck? Ever feel like you have an uncertain future? King David pondered that very question: “How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?” (Psalm 137:4). Repeat after me – “My past does not define me and it does not own me.” John R. Rice was…

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The White House

In 1792, Thomas Jefferson convinced George Washington that the government needed a presidential home. It was decided to solicit drawings from the public. In March of 1792, ads were printed, offering $500 to the person who submitted the winning design. Only nine designers applied. The winner was James Hoban, an Irish-born architect from South Carolina.…

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Why We Lie

Tim Allen said, “Men are liars. I’m an algebra liar. I figure two good lies make a positive.” The Bible says, “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord” (Proverbs 12:22). For most of us, especially men, honesty is a huge problem. Research has found that men tell six lies a day. (Women tell three.)…

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Listen Up!

If you are married, your recovery is a team sport. You and your spouse are in this thing together. And in order to reach your goals, you will need to learn to listen to one another in a way that takes hard work. Cathy Huyghe, writing for Inc., offers three listening tips. Tip #1 –…

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The Amazing Dirk Williams

Late in the winter of 1569, Dirk Williams found himself running from the Dutch authorities. Although no one today would see his beliefs about baptism as radical or threatening, leaders of his day regarded him as a heretic. Fleeing for his life, Williams came to a pond covered with a thin layer of ice. After…

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What Porn Does to the Marriage

The Internet has taken the porn industry to a whole new level, providing what is known as the “triple-A engine” effect: accessibility, affordability, and anonymity. And the results have been devastating. The Kinsey Institute has found that men’s use of porn has resulted in 86 percent of them finding reduced sexual quality with their partners.…

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The Power of 100 Free Throws

On January 21, 1989, Michigan played Wisconsin in a men’s basketball game. The game came down to two free throws by Michigan guard Rumeal Robinson. He clanked both shots, and the Wolverines lost by a single point. Determined that this would never happen again, Robinson stayed after every practice for the rest of the season,…

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Five Ways to Stay Sober

The Bible says to “hold fast to what you have attained” (Revelation 2:25). Let’s consider five ways to do that with your sobriety. 1. Celebrate milestones. If you’re in a 12-Step program, you understand this. It is important to celebrate the hard work of recovery and to use this as a motivation for further success.…

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Why We Need Each Other

In 2016, Drs. Shoba Sreenivasan and Linda E. Weinberger published an article in Psychology Today, titled “Why We Need Each Other.” The article concludes with this summary: “We need each other – for connectedness remains essential for psychological survival.” Community is not just a key to your happiness; it is integral to your very survival.…

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Sinatra

In 1934, a young Frank Sinatra sang the lyrics of I Get a Kick Out of You for the first time. A line from that song: “Mere alcohol doesn’t thrill me at all.” Substitute sex addiction for alcohol and you have the testament of every sex addict. Eventually, the alure loses its thrill. The addict…

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LumberKings Win!

It was one of the greatest comebacks in sports history. On May 7, 2014, the Clinton LumberKings played the Burlington Bees in a Single-A level minor league baseball game. The Bees had buzzed to a 17-1 lead by the fifth inning. But the LumberKings erased the 16-run deficit and won the game in extra innings.…

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One Stomach Flu Away

In the 2006 movie, The Devil Wears Prada, Emily Charlton (played by Emily Blunt) said, “I’m just one stomach flu away from my ideal weight.” I suppose that’s one way to lose weight. Unfortunately, that is also the way most of us do recovery. Like losing weight, recovery demands discipline, new habits, and absolute resolve.…

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5 Cents Store

On this date in 1879, Frank Winfield Woolworth opened the first 5 Cents Store in Utica, New York. Pledging to sell nothing that cost more than a nickel, Woolworth stores increased in number to over 1,000 over the next 50 years. But the chain’s inability to change with the times eventually led to its demise.…

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Don’t Focus on the Consequences

Dr. Lance Dodes, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, offers an interesting perspective on recovery. He writes, “Don’t focus on the consequences of addiction. It’s a waste of time.” Dodes continues, “Focusing on consequences of our behaviors does not help to stop addiction. It is a waste of valuable time that could be spent…

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Step Two

“We became aware that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity” (Step 2, AA). Let’s break down the all-important second step of recovery. 1. Awareness: Until we become aware of our situation and the ability of God to heal, we do not get well. 2. Power: Recovery requires more than personal resolve.…

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Sinking Ships

Violet Jessop lived a charmed life. Jessop was a stewardess abord the RMS Olympic, one of the Titanic’s sister ships, when it collided with another ship in September, 1911. The Olympic was damaged, but made it back to port with no injuries. Les than six months later Jessop was aboard the Titanic, again as a…

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Cleveland Cavs & Porn

Google Analytics can track data on porn site use specific to cultural events. For example, the Cleveland Cavaliers played the Golden State Warriors in the 2017 NBA Finals. When the Warriors were on the verge of winning the final game, porn use in the San Francisco area (home to the Warriors) dropped by 21 percent.…

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St. Valentine

According to early tradition, Saint Valentine was imprisoned in Rome, where he restored sight to the blind daughter of his jailer. Another tradition adds on a legend that St. Valentine later wrote a love letter to this woman, and signed it, “Your Valentine,” before his execution. The date of February 14 was set by Pope…

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Mad As Hell

“I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!” (Network, 1976) Forgive my language, but to borrow from the movie, if you are married to a sex addict, it may be that until you are mad as hell and unwilling to take it anymore, your spouse will not get desperate. Don’t misunderstand.…

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Melville Weston

If today is your birthday, you are in good company. The following people were born on February 11: Thomas Edison (1847), Lloyd Bentsen (1921), Leslie Nielsen (1926), Tina Louise (1934), Burt Reynolds (1936), Jeb Bush (1953), Sheryl Crow (1962), Sarah Palin (1964), and Jennifer Aniston (1969). And Melville Weston. Don’t forget about Melville Weston. You…

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Five Steps to Staying Sober

Dr. Steven Stosny, noted author and addiction expert, offers five steps to staying sober. Let’s jump right in. Step 1 – Practice a regimen to change old habits. Create new patterns of living that alter the behaviors that lead to acting out. Step 2 – Recondition your emotional system. Focus on regulating your emotions in…

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Flawless

For the last five years, this has been my favorite song. In 2014, MercyMe produced Flawless. I try to listen to the song every day. It brings hope to any of us who have flaws. “No matter the bumps, no matter the bruises, no matter the scars, still the truth is – the cross has…

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Looking Back

I’m nostalgic. When possible, I still enjoy driving by my childhood home, my first church, and the high school where I spent the best six years of my life. Do you often think about “the good ‘ol days”? If so, you’re in good company. King David often looked back. He said, “I thought about my…

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The Longest 6-Iron

On January 31, 1971, Alan Shepherd brought a golf club to work, along with a couple of balls. But Shepherd’s “work” was a little unusual. He was the commander of Apollo 14. Six days later, his work would have him on the surface of the moon. It was then, 50 years ago today, when Shepherd…

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Child Abuse

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in four girls and one is six boys are sexually abused by the age of 18. Psychologist and trauma specialist Susanne Babbel writes, “Thirty-five percent of child sexual abusers were once abused themselves.” With that, the cycle of abuse continues. God puts a premium on children.…

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Get Your Own Dirt!

A scientist told God, “We no longer need you. We have advanced to the point that we can create anything we need with our own ingenuity.” God said, “You want to put that to a test?” The scientist said, “Sure. What do you have in mind?” God said, “Let’s each make a man, just like…

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A Few Good Steps

In his groundbreaking book, Unwanted, Dr. Jay Stringer writes, “The more an individual acts out, the more likely he is to deprive himself of meaningful relationships and self-care because he will not feel as if he deserves that.” But this cycle must stop. God is clear: “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers…

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Walk Well

Your current sexual behavior is the predictable result of your childhood experiences. Most likely, your early childhood was littered with isolation. Or trauma. Or abuse. Or all three. And that explains how you got here. However, that does not excuse why you’re staying here. Let me be clear. You owe no one an apology for…

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Is Porn Use an Affair?

We live in a porn-crazed time. Covenant Eyes reports that $3,075.64 is spent on porn every second and that young adults think that not recycling is worse than viewing porn. Further, more than 50,000 church leaders in the United States are using porn on a regular basis. The Bible is abundantly clear. “Marriage should be…

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Misery

In the Heidelberg Catechism, a Protestant confessional document, there is a question about how human beings know their misery. It’s an odd question, until you understand that the German word for misery is elend, meaning to be out of one’s native land, with a deep sense of homesickness. Translation: when removed from familiar surroundings, a…

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The Ohio River

The Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers join together in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to form the Ohio River. If you want to understand the Ohio River, you must first take a look at the Allegheny and the Monongahela. Jesus said, “It is what comes out of a person that defiles him” (Mark 7:15). Medical News Today identified the…

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The Challenge with Middle Age

In 2017, the Boston Globe released an article titled “The Biggest Threat Facing Middle Aged Men Isn’t Smoking or Obesity, It’s Loneliness.” Actress Anne Hathaway said, “Loneliness is my least favorite thing about life.” The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) studied loneliness in America. Among their findings: Loneliness is more damaging to our health…

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Screwtape Letters

C.S. Lewis wrote, in his preface to The Screwtape Letters, “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe in them too strongly.” “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, powers, rules of…

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Serenity Prayer

Someone recently gave me a copy of the Serenity Prayer for those of us who are getting a little older. “God, grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked, the good fortune to run into the ones I do, and the eyesight to know the difference.” The more popular version of the…

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Getting Started

When I first got into recovery, I felt like a mosquito at a nudist colony. I didn’t know where to begin. Recovery, like a thirsty mosquito at a nudist colony, is all about getting started. Mark Twain said, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” And Drew Houston, the 37-year-old founder of Dropbox (worth…

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Out of Gas

Dad warned me about this, but it happened anyway. As a new driver, I forgot to check the fuel level in my car. So I ran out of gas. This was in the pre-cell phone era, so a long walk to a gas station was in order. Many times, recovery is like that. We don’t…

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Saint Ambrose

Saint Ambrose wrote, “Many a sin has sullied me in body and in soul because I did not restrain my thoughts nor guard my lips; nevertheless, it is to Thee, O God of majesty and love, that I turn in my extremity, for Thou are the fount of mercy; to Thee, as quickly as I…

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F-16 Fighter Jet

A U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds air demonstration is an amazing thing to see. The F-16 fighter jet was developed to act as a support weapons system for the military’s larger and more expensive fighter aircraft, the F-14 Tomcat and the F-15 Eagle. Blindingly fast and agile, the F-16 Fighting Falcon has a top speed of…

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Tuned Pianos

A.W. Tozer wrote with his typical brilliance, in The Pursuit of God. “Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must…

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Flat Tire

I hopped in my car at 4:15 a.m. to go pick up a friend to take him to the airport for an early flight. But before I left my driveway, this message flashed from the screen above the steering column: Low air pressure in back right tire. Only one tire was going flat. The other…

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It Could Have Been Me

Richard Elliot was born on January 16, 1960. So was I. Richard Elliot was given a tenor saxophone as a young teenager. So was I. Richard Elliot played tenor sax for years. So did I. Richard Elliot was nominated for a Grammy Award for his excellent play of the tenor sax. I wasn’t. Richard Elliot…

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Lost Wallet

A man was on his hands and knees under a street light late at night when another man passed by and asked what he was doing. The following discussion ensued. “I’m looking for my wallet,” the man said. “Are you sure you lost it here?” asked the passerby. “No, I lost it at the other…

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2 Questions

There is a story in Genesis 16 about an Egyptian teenager named Hagar. She is brought in as a concubine for Abraham because he and Sarai had been struggling with infertility for more than ten years. Hagar successfully conceived a child for Abraham and Sarai. But Sarai mistreated Hagar. In the next scene, we find…

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The Brothel

In his book, The World, The Flesh, and Father Smith, Bruce Marshall wrote, “The young man who rings the bell at the brothel is unconsciously looking for God.” Billy Graham said it like this: “There is a God-shaped emptiness in all our hearts that only God can fill.” The answer for the sex addict is…

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Fire Hydrants

A Sunday School helper was delivering a station wagon full of kids to their homes when a fire truck zoomed past them. Sitting in the front of the truck was a Dalmatian dog. The children immediately began to debate the role of that dog. “They use him to keep crowds back,” suggested one child. Another…

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Is Addiction a Sin?

There is this ongoing debate among those who fancy themselves as both addiction specialists and theologians. The debate centers on one question – is addiction a sin? Let me answer that for you with two truths. Addiction is not a sin. Acting out is. Joyce Myer said, “No matter what has happened to you in…

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Someone Is Watching You

A woman had been shopping and had bought a dress that she knew she couldn’t afford. “Why did you do it?” asked her husband. “I just couldn’t help it,” she replied. “The devil tempted me.” Her husband countered, “Why didn’t you say, ‘Get thee behind me, Satan’?” The wife answered, “I did. But he just…

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Avoid the Aisle

“Jack” was a very heavy man, and in need of back surgery. Before the doctor could do the surgery, Jack had to lose close to 100 pounds. His diet meant staying away from the grocery store. But one day, he went. And then it happened. He wandered down the ice cream aisle, and eventually bought…

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Perez

Ever heard of a guy in the Bible named Perez? Perez was an obscure character in the Old Testament. Here’s his story. A woman named Tamar seduced a fellow named Judah, who was the great-grandson of Abraham. Tamar became pregnant, and had twins nine months later, born outside of marriage. One of those twins was…

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Consistency

On this date in 1996, Crazy After You closed at Shubert Theater after 1,622 consecutive performances. From 1992 to 2010, Brett Favre started 199 consecutive games as a quarterback in the NFL. From 1982 to 1998, Cal Ripken played in 2,632 straight baseball games for the Baltimore Orioles. My favorite record of consistency was set…

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Facelift

Linda was 65 when she suffered a serious heart attack and was rushed to the local hospital. Before surgery, she prayed that she would survive the surgery. God said, “Not only will you survive the surgery, I will give you 40 more years of good health.” Sure enough, Linda came through the surgery well. Trusting…

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Can God Use a Sinner?

Do you think God can’t use a sinner? In the lineage of Jesus (Matthew 1), we find only four women named. Two were prostitutes, one was an adulteress, and the other was from a foreign land. Still think God can’t use a sinner? Only one man in Scripture was described as being a man “after…

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Plane Dumb

Jim decided to finally face his fear of heights. On his 50th birthday, he decided to jump out of an airplane. After the necessary training, Jim was in the plane. As the plane neared the point where Jim would jump, he turned to his instructor and asked a question. “What if my parachute doesn’t open?…

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Anyone Can Do It

George Carlin said it well: “In the United States, anybody can be president. That’s the problem.” Carlin’s point is well taken. In America – and many other countries – a person becomes the sum total of his decisions. If he strings together enough wise decisions, he will enjoy the intended outcome. But what about addiction?…

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Necessary Mistakes

Consider these words as you launch a new year. “I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you’re making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing…

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New Things

Actress Tallulah Bankhead said, “If I had to live my life again, I’d make the same mistakes, only sooner.” As we turn the page to a new year, it is important to learn from the mistakes of our past, and then to move forward. An article in Country Living last month offered 15 suggestions on…

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Strawberries

A farmer was driving down a road with a load of fertilizer in the back of his truck. A young boy saw him and yelled out, “What do you have in the back of your truck?” “Fertilizer,” said the farmer. “What are you going to do with it?” asked the boy. “I’m putting it on…

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Comebacks

The date was December 27, 2000. For those of you who aren’t so gifted in mathematics, that makes that 20 years ago today. Here’s what happened. Hockey legend Mario Lemieux scored a goal and had two assists, leading the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 5-0 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Not a big deal, except…

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Beware of Relapse

Did you have a great Christmas yesterday? If so, beware of relapse today. Did you have a lousy Christmas yesterday? If so, beware of relapse today. There are two times when you are in heightened danger of relapse – when things are going well and when things are going poorly. We see it all the…

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A Very Special Christmas

December 25, 1914 was a very special Christmas. For one day, World War I hostilities ceased. At dawn that day, soldiers emerged from their trenches and crossed “no man’s land” to exchange gifts and goodwill with their enemies. German and British troops joined together to sing carols, break bread, and pose for photos. Several soldiers…

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Wise Decisions

Christmas is the season when you buy this year’s gifts with next year’s money. That’s also how we live in addiction. The pleasure of the moment is robbing us of the blessings of tomorrow. The mistakes I make today will affect my life tomorrow, in so many ways: My marriage My checkbook My shame My…

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Flashlight Day

In late December, we celebrate the biggest holiday of the year. Today’s the day – National Flashlight Day. Because December 21 is the day of winter solstice, making this the day with the least sunshine, this date has been forever immortalized. It is for today that David Misell was born. On January 10, 1899, the…

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There’s Still Hope

The message of this Christmas Season is one of hope. James Cameron was the only survivor of a 1930 lynch mob, and he would go on to found America’s Black Holocaust Museum. How did he survive the mob – physically and emotionally? In his autobiography, A Time of Terror, he wrote, “With faith and prayer…

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Death Notice

The Bible tells us to deal rather harshly with our sexual sins. “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5). We are to “put to death” all sexual immorality. What does that look like? How do we do that, exactly? I…

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Get Started

A full 100% of those who never started recovery never recovered. Amazing stat, huh? But the reality is that so many men and women fail simply because they don’t start. I love the words of Anne Frank: “How wonderful it is that nobody should wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” Here’s…

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Fear

Let’s talk about fear. The funny thing about fear is that, to quote Mark Twain, “I have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.” Someone defined fear as “False Evidence Appearing Real.” There is enough trouble in the world without imagining more. The prophet said, “Say to those with fearful hearts,…

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Potato Chips

Best Life publication has produced “20 Crazy Facts that Will Blow Your Mind.” On their list: Humans are the only animals that enjoy spicy foods. Humans are also the only animals whose brains shrink. It is impossible to hum while holding your nose. Aldous Huxley and C.S. Lewis died the same day as JFK. Potato…

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Ruth

There was a woman in the Bible named Naomi. With her husband, she had two sons, and was blessed to see them both marry. But a famine in the land brought great loss, as Naomi’s husband and both of her sons died young. Out of pure loyalty to her mother-in-law, Ruth vowed to stay with…

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35 Years

Satirist Tom Lehrer commented, “It is a sobering thought that when Mozart was my age, he had been dead for two years.” Born in the Holy Roman Empire in 1756, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart lived just 35 years. But in those 35 years, he composed more than 600 works and is still considered perhaps the most…

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Whispers

When your child wants to tell you a secret, she may climb into your lap, cup her hands around your ear, and then whisper in such a way that you are the only person on earth who hears what she has to say. God is waiting for you to crawl into his lap. You may…

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TV Dinners and Pot Pies

Batman has been listed as the 82nd greatest show in television history (by Zoller Seitz). From January 12, 1966 to March 14, 1968, my brother and I watched all 120 riveting episodes. Every Wednesday night, an episode would play, always ending with the caped crusaders in perilous danger. So we had to tune into the…

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One Man’s Dying Request

The Apostle Paul worked with the giants of the faith – men like Peter, Barnabas, Silas, and Timothy. And then there was another fellow, a young man who checked out when trouble checked in. John Mark abandoned Paul early in his first missionary journey. Fast forward several years. Paul is now an aging missionary, and…

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I Write the Songs

On this date in 1975, Barry Manilow reached #1 on the Billboard adult contemporary charts with his greatest hit ever, I Write the Songs. There was just one problem. Manilow didn’t write the song. The 32-year-old singer-songwriter was proud of his songwriting skills, but he had not written anything that was really that successful. Producer…

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The First Heart Transplant

Dr. Adrian Kantrowitz made history when his team performed the first heart transplant in America, at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, on December 6, 1967. Neary 41 years later, on November 14, 2008, Dr. Kantrowitz died – of heart failure. Putting the irony of his cause of death aside, Dr. Kantrowitz taught us an important…

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Pythagoras

There is a famous line from the movie Network. “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore.” Let’s talk about that – anger. The Bible warns us, “Let not the sun go down on your wrath” (Ephesians 4:26). There are actually two distinct kinds of anger identified in the Greek New…

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Elvis

The most successful musician in American history said, “I don’t know anything about music, In my line, you don’t have to.” Elvis had a good point. It is not knowledge that matters as much as what we do with that knowledge. My favorite author said is like this: “We don’t fall because we don’t know…

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Through Many Dangers

“Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come. Tis grace has brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me home.” Those immortal words by John Newton have brought comfort to millions, if not billions of saints for the last 250 years. And we need those words – to read, quote, and…

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Instant Gratification

“Give careful thought to your ways. You eat, but you never have enough. You drink, but you never have your fill” (Haggai 1:5-6). Addiction seeks the next thrill, the next hit, the next high. But it is never enough. To that way of thinking, George Orwell said, “Men can only be happy when they do…

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Tag Team

It was one of the most significant events in sports history. The date was March 31, 1985. In Wrestlemania I, The Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff defeated Barry Windham and Mike Rotundo for the WWE World Tag Team Championship. A lot of us treat the Christian life as a tag team event. When we get…

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Free Bagels

Trevor started a new job. On his first day, he noticed a box of bagels in the break room, with a sign that read, “Please drop in a quarter for every bagel.” After a few days, Trevor noticed that no one seemed to be monitoring the payment system. So he’d occasionally take a bagel without…

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Sax and Sex

Change comes slowly. Just ask my Dad. The three years that began with Dad handing me my first tenor saxophone when I was in 7th grade until I made first chair in the high school band in 10th grade were tortuous for the entire family. The early days of practicing my sax every day after…

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The Enemy

All recovery is spiritual. The Bible is clear: “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil” (Ephesians 6:12). In an excellent sermon on spiritual warfare, Pastor Sam Rainer said there are two false views of…

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Born This Day

If you were born on November 25, you share today’s birthday with some pretty impressive people: Andrew Carnegie, John F. Kennedy, Jr., Joe DiMaggio, Amy Grant, Christina Applegate, and Anastas Mikoyan. Yes, Anastas Mikoyan. Mikoyan was an Armenian revolutionary who made his mark as a loyal servant to Joseph Stalin. He would play a leading…

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Strong Medicine

Life can be heavy. This is especially true in addiction recovery. The road to freedom is often marked with challenges and set-backs. That leads me to a very important ingredient of successful recovery. Humor. Educator Frank Moore Colby noted, “Men will confess to treason, murder, arson, false teeth, or a wig. But how many of…

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Snow White

I have never met a man or woman who said their life turned out exactly as they had hoped and planned. For each of us there have been trials, challenges, and failures. But because we have a God who is up to the challenge, we overcome. Our story actually becomes more historic because of our…

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Only In Florida

In 2014, Beth and I moved to Florida. We are still learning some things about this amazing state. For example: No matter where you are in Florida, you are within 60 miles of a beach. It is illegal to sing while wearing swimwear in public. It is illegal for an unmarried woman to skydive on…

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Lost Wallet

A man was on his hands and knees under a street light late at night when another man passed by and asked what he was doing. The following discussion ensued. “I’m looking for my wallet,” the man said. “Are you sure you lost it here?” asked the passerby. “No, I lost it at the other…

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The Cost of a Good Brain

A surgeon entered the waiting room of the hospital with shocking news for his patient’s family. “Your loved one needs a brain transplant immediately,” he said. The family asked, “How much does that cost?” The doctor replied, “It all depends. A female brain goes for $20,000. A male brain costs $50,000.” The family asked, “Why…

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Time Up

I don’t know anyone who says they have more time than they need. We all feel rushed to accomplish all we want to in a day, week, month, year, and life. Leonard Bernstein said, “To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan and not quite enough time.” If we are to achieve all…

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Overcoming the Pain

Nothing is so devastating as discovering that your spouse is addicted to porn. But there is hope. Sharon Salzberg said, “Even in the midst of devastation, something within us always points the way to freedom.” That is true for the addict and his/her spouse. God promised, “I am the Lord your God who takes hold…

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Reginald

Reginald dropped out of high school to pursue his musical aspirations. It seems this was a good decision. In 2013, Billboard ranked him as the most successful male artist of all-time. He is a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He is the winner of multiple…

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Life Is Unfair

In a comic strip written by Bill Watterson, Dad said, “The world isn’t fair, Calvin.” Calvin responded, “I know, but why isn’t it ever unfair in my favor?” If you are an addict – or are married to one – you can identify with that sentiment. Life isn’t unfair in your favor. Author Sherrie Bourg…

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The Quarrymen

Sixty-one years ago today, on November 15, 1959, a singing group known as The Quarrymen lost in the preliminary round of Carroll Levis’s TV Star Search competition. This was the third time they entered the competition and lost. They lost to a woman who played a tune on her spoons. The Quarrymen found little success,…

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Keeping It Simple

Don’t overthink things. Confucius said, “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” Recovery is like that. We never fall because we don’t know what to do, but because we don’t do what we know. Here’s my advice – seek God more than you seek recovery. In my experience, when I seek…

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Anyone Can Do It

George Carlin said it well: “In the United States, anybody can be president. That’s the problem.” Carlin’s point is well taken. In America – and many other countries – a person becomes the sum total of his decisions. If he strings together enough wise decisions, he will enjoy the intended outcome. But what about addiction?…

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Avoid the Slide

Visit any recovery meeting and you will hear addicts describe how they “fell into addiction.” May I respectfully disagree? It is my observation, after knowing and working with hundreds of addicts, that no one ever falls into addiction. We slide into addiction. To fall implies an unintended slip or stumble. But the way we got…

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She Played Hockey

A grocery store manager wanted to get to know his new employee, so he asked him a few basic questions. He led with, “Where are you from?” The young employee said, “Sir, I’m from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the home of ugly women and great hockey teams.” The manager responded, “That’s interesting. My wife is from Lancaster.”…

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Blockbuster

It was a weekly routine early in our marriage. We would run to the Blockbuster video store to rent a movie, which we could then watch as many times as we wanted for the next three days. Then on this date in 2013, the unthinkable happened. Blockbuster closed its doors for the final time, marking…

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The Demise of a Holywood Star

Philip Seymour Hoffman won the Academy Award for his leading role in Capote (2005). Hoffman was nominated for three other Academy Awards, along with three Tony Award nominations. Unfortunately, Hoffman held another title. Addict. In 2006, Hoffman told his story on 60 Minutes. He was a drug and alcohol addict. At age 22, he got…

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Breaking the Curse

On this date in 1811, William Henry Harrison’s army prevailed over the Shawnee leader Tecumseh in the Battle of Tippecanoe. The Shawnee leader proceeded to place a curse on Harrison and every president who would be elected at 20-year intervals. Harrison (elected in 1840) caught a cold and died one month into office. Abraham Lincoln…

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The Solution

Why do we act out sexually? Dr. Timothy Fong addresses this in his article, “Understanding and Managing Sexual Behaviors.” He writes, “Psychologically, sexual behaviors serve to escape emotional or physical pain or are a way of dealing with life stressors. The irony is that the sexual behaviors become the primary way of coping and handling…

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Growing Old with You

A man told his wife that he had invited a friend home for dinner. His wife was enraged. “Are you crazy?” she asked him. “The house is a mess, I didn’t go shopping, the dishes are dirty, and I look like a wreck!” “I know all that,” the husband responded. “Then why did you invite…

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Walk in His Shoes

Billy Connolly said, “Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes. After that, who cares? He’s a mile away and you’ve got his shoes!” Jesus was pointed: “Do not judge others” (Matthew 7:1). Through the years, I have observed that we tend to judge others by their worst actions, while we judge…

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The Price of Success

Vince Lombardi said, “The price of success is hard work.” Peter Drucker said it like this: “Plans are only good intentions unless they degenerate into hard work.” The Bible is pro-work. King David wrote, “You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with…

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How to Spot a Sex Addict

Coach Mike Ditka used to say, “You are what your record says you are.” By that he meant that our actions define us. Johann Wolfgang Goethe said it like this: “Behavior is the mirror in which everyone shows their image.” Jesus said we are known by our fruit (Matthew 7:16). Action trumps intent; it is…

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Addiction on the Brain

Physicist Michio Kaku said of his own profession, “Physicists are made of atoms. A physicist is an attempt by an atom to understand itself.” For centuries, men have been trying to understand themselves. And often, they turn to science for those answers. And when they look hard enough, they usually find the Creator waiting at…

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Five Ways to Love Your Wife

Travis went to see his supervisor in the front office. “Boss,” he said, “we’re doing some heavy cleaning at our house tomorrow, and my wife needs me to help in the attic and the garage, moving and hauling stuff.” “We’re shorthanded here, Travis,” replied his boss. “I can’t give you the day off.” “Thanks, boss,”…

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Pinky Pull-ups

On October 7, 2018, Tazio Gavioli set a new world record by completing 36 consecutive pull-ups. With his pinkies. I’m not sure I’ve done 36 pull-ups in my whole life, using all ten fingers. And while I admire this incredible feat by the Italian pull-up king, it sends two dangerous messages. Dangerous message #1 –…

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Structure

In my never-ending pursuit of good recovery material, I browse through several blogs and articles each week. I recently came across an article which identified 12 tips for staying sober. I love #6 on their list – develop a structured schedule. It’s so true. Having a chaotic or disorganized lifestyle can hinder your recovery. It’s…

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Where Were Doritos Invented?

Here are a few things you probably didn’t know. Doritos were invented at Disneyland. The U.S. is visited by more missionaries than any other country. The word “hundred” used to mean 120. Buzz Aldrin’s father was friends with Orville Wright. At a food safety conference in Baltimore in 2014, 100 attendees got food poisoning. The…

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Cutting the Cord

October 24 is a significant date in history. It was on this date in 1857 that the first soccer club was formed, in Yorkshire, England. On October 24, 1931, gangster Al Capone was sentenced to 11 years in prison for tax evasion. This date marks the deaths of three civil rights icons. All dying on…

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Do 5 Things Well

Sometimes, the key to recovery is simply staying at it. No one gets it right the first time. I often tell clients that all who fail in recovery have one thing in common – they quit too soon. Samuel Johnson wrote, “Great works are performed not by strength, but by perseverance.” The Bible addresses this…

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High Expectations

Recovery is about progress, not perfection. Beware of overly high expectations. They can look good, but turn deadly. George Elliot wrote, “Nothing is so good as it seems beforehand.” The Bible says, “I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and…

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Kintsugi

Kintsugi is the centuries-old Japanese art of fixing broken pottery. Rather than rejoin ceramic pieces with an adhesive, the Kintsugi technique employs a special tree sap dusted with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. Once completed, beautiful seams of gold glint in the cracks of ceramic give a one-of-a-kind appearance that actually enhances the beauty –…

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Lesson From Chess

Some play football. Others play basketball, baseball, or hockey. But real men play my sport. Chess. I was pretty good in my day (Houston high school champion, 1977). So bear with me while I quote an international chess champion. Savielly Tartakower was the Polish chess champion and a gold medal winner of the 1931 Chess…

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You Gotta Have This

The psalmist said, “Passion for God’s house will consume me” (Psalm 69:9). I love that word passion. You can’t achieve anything meaningful without passion. Vincent Van Gosh said, “I would rather die of passion than of boredom.” I agree. What is passion, exactly? I recently came across this definition: the degree of difficulty one will…

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God and Air Conditioning

Poet Amiri Baraka said of modern culture, “God has been replaced with air conditioning.” We seek comfort above all else. Many of us have been duped into thinking God’s primary interest in our lives is our comfort rather than our character. We think he never wants us to suffer or feel pain. That doesn’t square…

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The Final Question

2 Chronicles was the last book in the Hebrew Bible. The final verse of the final chapter offers an interesting insight to God’s purpose for our lives. King Cyrus issued a decree that allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. Why did he do this? His explanation was simple. “The Lord…

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iBrik

First, there was the iPhone. Then there came the iPad, iPod, and iCloud. Now there is the ibrik. I’m sure our most tech-savvy readers will know what that is. For the rest of you, let me help. An ibrik is a metal pot with a wooden handle, used to brew Turkish coffee. The ibrik was…

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Great Expectations

Expectations are an illusion. In the Old Testament, the people of Israel wanted a new king. Samuel was directed to a man named Jesse, who had several sons. One of them would be the man. But which one? Samuel began the search with a set of expectations. The chosen one would have a certain height,…

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Emotional Abuse

It has long been my observation that virtually all addicts have in their past a combination of the following: (a) abuse, (b) trauma, and (c) isolation. Let’s talk about that first one – abuse. Specifically, emotional abuse. Jill Bley, a clinical psychologist and sex therapist, estimates that 85-90 percent of sex addicts have suffered from…

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Shut Doors and Open Windows

Television host Fred Rogers said, “Often when you think you’re at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else.” There’s a great little book called The Story of Everything. Author Neal Layton writes, on page 122, “You know, it’s possible that God’s plan for us is littleness. His plan for us may…

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Years Restored

Every sex addict tells the same story. He or she has lost years, if not decades, to this disease. If you add up the hours on the Internet, trolling social media, visiting dating sites, and in therapy, the lost time is staggering. A year into my recovery, my past was discovered, and it cost me…

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Restoration

A rusty gate, a broken-down car, an old house. To most of us, they look past their prime, beyond hope, and pretty much worthless. But to the person in the restoration business, these are not problems; they are opportunities. The same is true of each of us. The depth of your fall does not limit…

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