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Take A Picture

Tom Family III just recently returned from visiting my family in the Pacific Northwest and also attending the U.S. Open Golf tournament held in my home town of Tacoma, WA.  We were able to share some wonderful family experiences which we recorded with hundreds of photos.  This one was taken as a four generation memory of my 88 year old father, me, my son, Andrew, and his nearly three year old daughter, Adelyn.

As I was traveling back home scanning through our pictures, I began asking myself, “Why do we take pictures?”  The answer I concluded was to preserve and share memories.

Memories are critical to our makeup.  God emphasizes this throughout scripture.  In Deuteronomy 6, as God’s people, are preparing to enter the Promised Land after a 40 year wandering and training in the desert, he emphasizes how critical their memory is to their faithfulness.  He instructs them to keep His word close to them.  He says that they should constantly instruct their children about His commands, and that they should bind scripture on their hands, foreheads, and even on their doorposts.  He then explains why these reminders are so very essential:

And when the LORD your God brings you into the land that He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you-with great and good cities that you did not build, and houses full of all good things that you did not fill , and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant-and when you eat and are full, then take care LEST YOU FORGET the LORD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” (Deuteronomy 6:10-12)

In our affluence, we can so quickly forget.  Our threat to faithfulness is not when things are bad, but when they are good.  I see it all the time.

I interview all the men and their families who are potential residents of our recovery program at His Way.  Most express a desperation and a willingness to do anything to get the help that they need.  They plead and beg for help at whatever cost necessary.  But once they enter the program and get a few days of comfortable beds, warm meals, and safety, many of them begin to complain.  They begin complaining about their roommate, or the schedule, or some of the instructors, or the food, or the rules and restrictions.  When things get better how quickly they forget.

I have seen the consistent pattern of forgetfulness, leading to grumbling and complaining out of ingratitude, and next thing you know – relapse, a loss of the faith that began their sobriety.

So here is my suggestion for us all, TAKE A PICTURE!!!

Take a picture of where you have been, what God has done for you, and how others have been God’s blessing to you.  And do as God suggests in Deuteronomy.  Show your pictures and tell the stories over and over again.  This is the only way I know for us to maintain our gratitude and in so doing maintain our faithfulness to the One who has delivered us all.

Jesus ended his time on this earth by giving us a picture to assist us in this process.

And He took bread and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them saying, “This is my body, which is given for you.  Do this in remembrance of me.”  And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” – Luke 22:19,20

So, let us live in gratitude by constantly and regularly participating in Jesus’ picture of His sacrifice for us through the Lord’s Supper.  “Do this in Remembrance of Me!”

Tom Reynolds

Great Article in Shattered Magazine!

Here’s an article in Shattered Magazine about Mike, a graduate of His Way!

https://shatteredmagazine.net/addiction-and-sanctification-its-about-progress-not-perfection/?utm_content=buffer74461&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer

 

The Face Of Evil

ISISISIS is the contemporary face of evil.  Their “YouTube” videos fill the airwaves with innocents, of which many  are Christians, being brutally slaughtered publically in an effort to terrorize the world with their power and rage.

But faces of evil have always filled our social conscience whether they be terrorist leaders like Osama Bin Laden, or social criminals such as cannibalistic killer, Jeffery Dahmer, rapist/murderer, Ted Bundy, psychopathic killers like Charles Manson, or nationalistic leaders pursuing genocidal extermination such as Saddam Hussein,  Pol Pot in Cambodia, Joseph Stalin in the USSR, or Adolf Hitler.  They tend to be the faces of human moral depravity that fill our social conscience.

At His Way, faces of evil for many families enter our doors as addicts who have ravaged their families and local communities.  The stories of family terror are too numerous to tell.   But in a relatively short period of Christ influenced sobriety the distorted faces, glazed eyes, and hardened hearts of addiction yield to the tender, softer spirit that lies dormant beneath the surface.  Many mothers tearfully declare, after having not seen their son for their first thirty days in the program, “There is my fifteen year old boy that I lost so many years ago!”

But are the faces of systematic mass murder or drug and alcohol crazed men, the limit to God’s view of evil?

Jesus tells his disciples a story to explain the nature of God’s kingdom.  A king is settling accounts with his servants when one enters his presence owing “ten thousand talents” which is equivalent to 200,000 years of labor!  While the king begins to make arrangements to extract as much as possible from the servant for payment, the servant falls to his knees begging the king for patience, that with time he will pay back all he owes.  The offer is absurd.  There is no possible way the man can even begin to scratch the surface of his debt.

But amazingly, the king in his great mercy, grace, and compassion decides to forgive the debt and release the servant.  While we would expect the next scene to be a family reunion celebrating the amazing grace the man and his family had received, instead we find him strangling a fellow servant and demanding a debt paid that is mere pennies relative to the great debt from which he had just been released.  In like manner, the indebted servant begs for patience so that he could pay back the debt, but instead of extending him the same grace he had just received, he insists upon payment and has him thrown into debtor’s prison.

Jesus says that his fellow servants saw this action and reported it to the king, and the king demanded that the forgiven servant be returned to him.  The king then indignantly confronts the servant for his actions of being uncompassionate after so much incredible mercy was shown him.  The king expresses that he should have shown grace as was shown him.  The king confronts the servant with this phrase, “You wicked servant!

Jesus reveals that from God’s perspective true wickedness is not necessarily the heinous crimes that fill the front pages of our papers or the alerts that saturate our cable news networks, but the unwillingness to extend to others what God has so graciously extended to us.

Wickedness is to not forgive others as God has forgiven you.  Or not to serve your  neighbor as God has served you.  Or not to love your brother as God has loved you.

While it may be more comfortable to see evil in the face of cruel despots, the real evil may be closer than we would care to look.  It may be found in our own resentments, our own defensiveness, and our own selfishness.  The face of evil may even be seen in our own mirrors.

Tom Reynolds

 

Found Money!

Found MoneyThe stories we can tell about items we have found in our donation piles at The Saving Way thrift stores are limitless. The stuff we get runs the gamut from hilarious to disturbing and from goofy to gross. And yes, we often find loose change and occasionally a few dollars tucked into pockets of old clothes and purses. That loose change is added to the His Way scholarship fund.

Recently, one of our employees, Toshiko Wingard, discovered an envelope inside a neatly folded blanket that was donated to the store. She opened the envelope, which contained some old letters and…to her excitement, also a bunch of small bills adding up to over two thousand dollars! Larry Rice, our Operations Manager, has been at The Saving Way since day one, and was quick to point out, “Since we opened our first store five years ago, that is the most exciting thing we have ever found in a donation!

Fortunately, there were enough clues in the envelope to allow us to track down the donor via the internet and social media. In fact, as it turned out, one of the donor’s family members is a mutual friend of mine on facebook. A few years ago, before the internet, it would have been nearly impossible for us to reunite the money with its owner.

The owners of the money were surprised and delighted to receive the news that we had discovered this treasure, and as it turned out, they didn’t even know the money existed. They are in the process of cleaning out their parents’ home, and thought they had checked through all of the items pretty thoroughly before bringing them to our store to donate.

To reward Toshiko’s honesty, the Puryear’s donated enough money to the store to pay for a pizza party for our entire staff. Upon meeting them, Toshiko simply offered her infectious smile and a simple, “It was the right thing to do.” Larry and I agree that our staff at The Saving Way is the best, and we are pleased with the honesty of our employees. It shows not only a heart for this mission, but also a heart to do what’s right all the time.

Brenda Newman

Sales Manager, The Saving Way

Fail Your Way To Success

Kobe Last month, Kobe Bryant, star guard for the Los Angeles Lakers, set an NBA record in his 19th season, by missing more field goals than anyone in the history of professional basketball (13,421).  This report widely circulated as one more reason to criticize the much maligned NBA super star nearing the end of his playing career.  This record helped critics support the hypothesis of Kobe being a selfish player who shoots too much and harms the success of his team with his ego-centric approach to the game.

Interestingly, he surpassed this list of hall of famers in reaching his milestone; Celtic great, John Havlicek (13,418), Elvin Hayes (13,296), Karl Malone (12,682), Kareem Abdul Jabbar (12,470), and Michael Jordan (12,345).  These superstars are the most prolific scorers in NBA history.  The point being that to be a great scorer you have to be willing to make a lot of attempts, and accept failure as a part of success.

Brett Favre, the superhero quarterback for the Green Bay Packers, holds the record for the most completions in the NFL at 6,300.  But he also holds the record for the most interceptions (336) and the most sacks (525).  Reggie Jackson, nicknamed Mr. October because of his incredible clutch hitting in playoff and World Series games, holds the record for the most strike outs in the American League at 2,597.

All of these great athletes were not afraid to try and fail.  In fact, that is what allowed them to succeed.

In addiction recovery, relapse is considered a part of the recovery process.  Most addicts I know who are enjoying a long season of sobriety got there through some stumbles and failures.  Many are trapped in addiction because they fear the failure of attempting sobriety.  Satan has convinced them that they can never succeed so why try.  His messages within our heads and hearts proclaim self-doubt and failure.  But God proclaims through the Apostle Paul, “If God is for us, who can be against us? . . . Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?. . . No, in all these things we are MORE THAN CONQUERORS through Him who loved us.” (Romans 8:31-37)  In Christ, we have already won!  So nothing should hold us back from trying.  For God promises in His Word that, “for He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (I John 4:4)

So, don’t let the fear of failure paralyze you from potential success.  Fail your way to victory.  Failure is the pathway to success.

So step up to the plate, swing for the fence, throw up another jumper, you can’t win without trying.  All the greats know that.  Be a great!

Tom Reynolds

The Secret of Contentment

Tom Head ShotI was leading a Bible discussion at the headquarters of General Foods.  It was a very interesting group because we had executives, middle management, and line workers all together discussing God’s truths on a weekly basis.  It was a very special time.

One week I began the discussion with a question for everyone to answer, “Assuming that the value of a dollar remained constant forever, what annual salary would you need to be paid in order to be content forever?”  Of course some of the initial responses were outrageous amounts like $1 million or half a million, but then some answers began to moderate – $100,000, $35,000.  I expected the grand amounts, but I was surprised at the more modest sums.  But then I asked the follow-up question, “For which of you would the amount you mentioned be the amount you make now or less?”  Can you guess the answer?  NONE!

No matter how extreme or how modest our ideals are, all thought that contentment would be attained with just a little bit more.

But that belief is the foundation of discontentment – the continual quest for more!

Paul in Philippians 4 states, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.  I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound.  In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (vv.11-13)

The secret of contentment is realizing that all I need I already have in Christ Jesus.  As Peter declares, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence.” (II Peter 1:3)

The realization that all God offers me in Christ is a present possession that creates a spirit of gratitude.  And gratitude is the only attitude that will create genuine contentment.

Gratitude Attitude Picture

Contentment is wanting what you already have!

So, this Thanksgiving begin a celebration of gratitude and don’t ever let it end. Continue it throughout the year and the remainder of your life.  This is the secret of contentment.

Tom Reynolds

Love Lifted Me

At His Way, we welcome any man who is committed to overcoming addiction, but we were not sure about Mike.  Mike’s professional diagnosis coming out of jail made him well beyond our capabilities.  He had spent the majority of his adult life incarcerated. He had been labeled with some extreme psychological dysfunctions. He had deeply embedded grief issues that appeared to remain unaddressed. And, numerous social and relational difficulties.  Through much prayer and the unwavering faith of believing that God can do far more than we can ask or imagine, we agreed for Mike to come.

Upon Mike’s arrival, we quickly realized that his issues far exceeded our capabilities and training, but we were thankful that he had the support of the mental health community as well.  His grief issues were deep.  He had lost his mother and his son in two separate tragic car accidents, both while he was incarcerated.

Mike, also, had had a traumatic childhood.  At twelve, he was seriously injured when he was hit by a car while riding his bicycle.  Three times he was declared dead while doctors worked to save his life.  He recovered from that accident, but was never quite the same again.  The trauma had changed him.  He also grew up as an only boy in a home without the influence of a father.  So by the time he arrived at His Way, it was evident that he craved positive male attention.

Though Mike was extremely intelligent, he lacked the ability to succeed in a traditional classroom environment and chose to drop out of school at a young age.  Over the years, he had made vain attempts to complete his education with a GED, but was never able to stick to the process long enough.  Typically, frustration and self-doubt would force him to quit.

Over his time in and out of institutions, he had never stayed long enough to get help.  He would eventually feel uncomfortable for some reason and run.

But at His Way, Mike found the loving fellowship of Christian brothers that helped him grow.  The unconditional acceptance he found helped him work through many of his social and relational difficulties.  He was able to openly address and work through his grief issues as he told and retold the stories of tragedy in his life.  Some days Mike would be found sitting alone watching and re-watching the DVD of his son’s memorial that was played at his funeral.  He would invite us to watch with him as he would reflect over those special times.

Early in his stay, he would face difficult issues and would contemplate running.  But his brothers would stop him and persuade him once again to stay.  There were numerous staff discussions warning us of Mike as a flight risk.

Through much cajoling, Mike was encouraged to begin GED classes in order to complete his high school education.  Mike was extremely hesitant.  He had tried it a number of times before without ever completing it.  While he has yet to finish, he has a passion and resolve to see it through this time.  He has enjoyed the assistance of many coaches, tutors, and encouragers among his brothers at His Way.  He is well on his way to reaching this success.

He is also dedicated to a job that he loves and that loves him.  I hear constant praise for his strong work ethic and commitment to a quality job at The Saving Way Thrift Store.

All of his attention getting habits and idiosyncrasies have been met with loving understanding, support, and care.

Above all, Mike has grown in his passion for Jesus and his truths about who he is in Christ, truths that he has actually experienced through the fellowship of the staff and residents of His Way.

Mike graduated His Way after six-months on November 6.  He has moved into a house of Christian fellowship while continuing in the job he loves and is nearing completion of his GED.

Though Mike’s diagnosed issues were well beyond the scope of the professional experience of the staff and residents of His Way, they were not beyond the unconditional love of God expressed through the fellowship of His people.

Mike was also humble enough to be willing to accept the help and support of others.  He accepted their vision for his life and confidence in his abilities even when he didn’t see it and self-doubt could have quickly overwhelmed him.

Peter encourages Jesus’ followers to “love one another earnestly from a pure heart” (I Peter 1:22) because “love covers a multitude of sins” (I Peter 4:8).  Unquestionably, God’s love has overcome Mike’s history of sin, his personal idiosyncrasies, and the tragic sins that were committed against him in his past.  As we celebrated Mike’s graduation accomplishment from His Way, I could not help but reflect on the chorus from the classic Christian hymn, “when nothing else could help, Love Lifted Me!

Mike’s transformation was brought by the power of God’s love and his acceptance of it.  And so can all of ours!  May God’s love lift you as it has Mike.

Tom Reynolds

This Is My Beloved Son

The halls of Alcoholics Anonymous are filled with desperate addicts seeking hope. They begin every meeting with, “Hi, I’m ____, and I’m an alcoholic.” This is a way to keep the addict openly confessional and never losing sight of the humility that keeps him in recovery. It is a great and very needed method within AA.

But, in the halls of His Way, we have a very different confession. Instead of the constant reminder of our past failures, we focus on our new identity in Christ, and tether ourselves to our solution, not our problem. So, our meetings are filled with, “Hi, I’m ____, and I’m a new creation in Christ.”

The reality is key to defeating sin. Satan came at Jesus three times in the wilderness challenging Him to sin by proving His identity through some miraculous stunt. “If you are the Son of God…” (Matthew 5:3-11). Jesus simply defeated Satan’s efforts with citation of scripture. As Satan tried to break Him down, Jesus was fortified with one clear truth that He received from heaven some 40 days previously. As Jesus rose up from the waters of the Jordan, God spoke announcing to the world, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17). These words were the resonating confidence that allowed Jesus to fight off Satan.

Satan will use self-doubt and insecurity to tempt us to prove ourselves. To guard ourselves from falling victim to his devices, we must claim the promise Jesus claimed by announcing that, “I am God’s child.”

Let’s enter into the halls of victory claiming God’s promise, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” (Romans 16:20)

Tom Reynolds

What Is An Adult?

On Monday, June 16, 2014, it was announced the great hall of fame baseball player, Tony Gwynn, had passed away of salivary gland cancer at the age of 54.  Tony played his entire career of 20 seasons for the San Diego Padres.  He won 8 batting titles and ended his career with a life time batting average of .338 with 3,141 career hits.

In the sports world, Monday was a day of remembering a great man and his baseball career.  By Tuesday, the focus shifted to the cause of his death, cancer due to the lifelong use of smokeless chewing tobacco.  On Wednesday, it was a debate about whether baseball should ban the use of smokeless tobacco by players during games as they had smoking a few years previously.  The primary argument had to do with the example they were setting for the children.  Most kids will start imitating baseball players by putting a wad of bubble gum in their cheek and spitting periodically.  This imitation many times turns into chewing tobacco when they get older.

As the debate heated up, one man e-mailed a comment to a national radio host stating something to the effect of “come on, we are all adults!”  In protest to major league baseball creating another rule regarding player behavior.  That comment sent my mind racing – what is an adult?

When I was a kid and adolescent, an adult was someone who could do whatever they wanted to.  No one told an adult what to do.  I used to think, and even some times say, “I can’t wait until I’m an adult, so I can stay up all night and go to bed when I want to!”  Or, “I can’t wait until I’m grown and I can eat what I want to, when I want to!”

Now I am an adult and I do go to bed when I want to…about 9PM (and usually I wish it could have been earlier).  And I try to eat what my doctor tells me to so I can avoid negative health risks; so much for being an “adult”.

When I reflected on this comment, “come on, we are all adults”, I realized that is a child’s view of adulthood.  As an adult, a mature perspective usually is a deep concern for others.  Mature adults choose actions that benefit others, not themselves.  Parents wake up with concern for their children all day long.  Most of their time and effort is spent trying to benefit their children.  Mature business owners feel the constant pressure of creating a living for their employees and their families.

Being an adult is not about getting what I want when I want it, but having the freedom and power to bless the lives of others and doing what benefits them.  Scripture says in I Corinthians 14:20, “Brothers, do not be children in your thinking.  Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.”  The Hebrew writer expands on the idea of explaining maturity, “But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” (5:14)

Maturity is about training one’s mind through constant practice to discern what is right and best.  Maturity is about waking up every morning and thanking God for the new day and then beginning to think about who can I serve and bless today.  Serving others is the ultimate training ground and expression of adulthood.

Paul encourages us to, “grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ” (Ephesians 4:15) that mature manhood is “the measure of the fullness of Christ”. (Ephesians 4:13)

So baseball, maybe we are all adults and should start acting like it by being concerned first and foremost about the influence we have on others, particularly the kids.  Let’s grow up and think of others before ourselves today!

Tom Reynolds

The Faith To Finish

On April 10, 2014, Justin was our 107th graduate of His Way.  It took him seven months to graduate our six month program.  But here is why.

Due to circumstances beyond his control, by the time Justin’s six month graduation date arrived he was nearly $1,000 behind on his recovery fees.  Therefore, he was unable to graduate, because His Way rules clearly state that all recovery fees must be paid in full in order to graduate.

Two contemporaries of Justin’s faced similar situations and chose to leave early because they saw no way that their fees could be caught up by their graduation date.  Justin faced the same uncertainty, but chose to stay trusting that somehow things would change.  He just knew that God would not have brought him this far without providing a way of success for him if he just trusted.  He had absolutely no idea how, but he trusted.

A few weeks later, his fellow residents held a fund raising car wash to help the brothers who were behind on fees to catch up.  That loving act of service helped Justin with part of his dilemma. Plus, better than average paychecks and some money left over from a family vacation helped Justin come up with the money he needed just three weeks after he was to originally graduate.

On the day of his graduation, Justin taught our daily Bible class on faith.  But it was a lesson already previously taught to the entire house through Justin’s faithful waiting upon the Lord.

The Hebrew writer in Hebrews 11:1 gives us the definition of faith, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”  Then the writer continues by listing numerous Old Testament examples of faith.  Some call this chapter, the “Hall of Fame of Faith”.  I would like to nominate Justin to be inducted into this great hall.  Because Justin had the faith to finish!

Tom Reynolds