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A Poor Prognosticator

Before the famed frenzy of March Madness and the bracketology begins, I go through a bracketology of my own for my favorite sport, golf.  This week is the Accenture World Match Play where the top 64 golfers in the world compete in head to head competition.  My wife, son and I always select our brackets before the event and then watch to see who wins.  Unlike March Madness where I don’t clue in to college basketball until March and then make random guesses as to who might win, golf I follow carefully.  I know who is playing well and who is not.  I listen carefully to the pundits and even am aware of personal issues that are going on in the lives of the players that may affect their play.  I know golf!

So why am I now sitting here two rounds into a six round tournament, without a single one of my players even left?  I guess I’m no modern day Nostradamus.  Maybe the reality is that no matter how informed we may think we are, life is extremely unpredictable.

Never have I been more reminded of my inability to predict the future than I am with Joe.  Joe and his family met with me months ago about the possibility of Joe entering our program at The Way.  Never did anyone need our program any more than Joe did, but he was absolutely the most obstinate young man I had ever met.  Our meeting was filled with profanity, hatred, and anger – all from Joe.  I honestly thought when they left that there is no way he will ever make it at The Way.  We did not hear from him for a few months, when out of the blue he called desiring to enter our program.  To be honest, as much as I desire to help every man who needs it, I also have the responsibility to protect the current residents from someone who may hurt their recovery and the peace of the house.  I struggled to consider Joe a viable candidate for our program.  But he was persistent and had impressed some of the other staff of his real desire.  So I agreed to take a chance with Joe.

Never have I ever been more wrong!  Joe has entered our program and excelled in every way.   He is fairly quiet, but very committed to do whatever it takes.  He has been completely open and receptive.  He has done whatever was asked of him and more.  Everyone that gets to know him picks him, first!

If we were in a school yard picking teams, I would have thought Joe to be selected last, but once everyone gets to know him, he is the first selection every time.

So this weekend, as Joe prepares to be baptized into Christ and totally commit his life to Jesus tomorrow, I am thankful that once again I’m proven to be a poor prognosticator.  Once again the Lord proves that what is impossible with man is possible with God.  Praise be to the God of possibility!

Tom Reynolds

The Great Recovery Begins With Me

In an effort to continue to provide everything possible to help the residents of The Way have a new beginning, we, through the assistance and leadership of our friends at Asbury, are offering Dave Ramsey’s internationally acclaimed course, Financial Peace.  To build enthusiasm for the course Carrie Gray, our case manager, scheduled a “field trip” for our guys to Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University in Franklin, TN.

Upon arriving at their four story office complex that houses 327 staff members, I was impressed with the very overt expression of Christ in everything they did.  When we first entered the foyer, I was surprised to see Dave there greeting people during a commercial break in his nationally syndicated radio program.  His studio was the first thing you saw upon arriving and everything was just so open and welcoming.  I had expected the studio to be hidden, so that only the elite may enter, but instead it was out in the open for all to see.

We were also greeted by Martha, the guest relations hostess.  She provided complimentary coffee, waters, and cookies.  She even personally served the refreshments while we watched Dave’s broadcast.  She quickly introduced our guys to everyone and made sure everything we needed was provided.  Dave came out at every break to answer financial questions, have pictures taken, and sign books.

Martha also provided a free book to all our residents and a free T-shirt that’s slogan appropriately connected our two ministries.  The shirt states, “The Great Recovery begins with me.”  We felt a true partnership with our brothers and sisters at Financial Peace.

Without question, everything that was done clearly announced their ministries commitment to Jesus Christ.  Everything from the humble, open, availability of its founder, to the endless hospitality of not only Martha, but the entire staff proclaimed their love for Jesus Christ.   It brought great conviction for all our men.

Without saying a word they answered a question that every one of us has had, “Can you be successful and be Christian?”  Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace resoundingly announced there is no other way to be successful except through Jesus Christ.  We needed to see that!

Tom Reynolds

Impressions of a Way Resident Visiting Dave Ramsey

 What meant the most to me was the way the staff treated us. They were extremely nice and welcoming to all of us, and they always had a smile on their face. They treated us with love and respect. Most people don’t treat us like that because of where we’re from or the things we’ve done. Another thing that stuck out was the way the whole place is run. They are like a big Christian family, much like a church. The trip was very encouraging to me at a time when I really needed some encouragement from Christian people.

Daniel

Feb 20, 2012

“Super” Value

Having watched the Super Bowl recently, I was interested in the popular cultural fascination with the famed and very expensive Super Bowl commercials.  I asked my class on Monday morning what they thought of the commercials.  They in general were not too impressed, but they did mention that they liked the Doritos ads the best.

They explained that the reason they liked them was because they were funny.  I attempted to probe deeper into what they believed the message Doritos was promoting.  They really had not thought in anyway about that.  We reflected over the two commercials.  One had an elderly grandmother in a wheelchair being taunted by her grandson in a tree house with a bag of Doritos.  She chose to slingshot her youngest grandchild in his jumping seat to the tree house and he snatched the bag of Doritos.  The second was a Great Dane who was bribing a man not to tell on the dogs killing of the cat with bags of Doritos.  So what’s the message?

I suggested to the class that the statement is about value.  Doritos are valuable enough to risk a child’s safety and more valuable than money when it comes to bribing.     Doritos goal is to get a shopper going down the chip aisle willing to pass up the Lays and Pringles and even pay more because of perceived value.  They responded that they have never thought that deeply about things on TV.

My greater concern is not the value of Doritos or the entertainment value of creative commercials, but that we fail to filter the messages of television.  We tend to turn off all critical thinking and just buy the TV message hook, line, and sinker.  This causes us to become willing victims of our great marketing machine.  Our inability to discern is a great danger.

As Christians, we need to filter every message through the lens of scripture and the values of Christ.  Isn’t that what Christian means?  Jesus consistently raises these value issues whether in parables about the value of the kingdom of God or challenges to the religious establishment regarding traditions of men versus God’s eternal teaching and values.

Values are a statement of worth.  The old English used the word “worthship” to express value.  We have since contracted the word to “worship”.  What we value is what we worship.  So be discerning when you engage culture, it’s an expression of your worship!

Tom Reynolds

 

What Would God Tell Us Today?

Have you ever heard people ask that question? If God were to speak to our society today, what would he say?

In Exodus 19, there is an interesting verse that makes up part of the well-known series of events where Moses receives the Ten Commandments. Moses eases into this “conversation” with God. In verse 3, God tells Moses – “this is what you are to say to the House of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel…”

There is a lot we tend to focus on in these few chapters of Exodus…most specifically, the ten commandments, the golden calf, and the chaos that ensues, but think about this short verse…this is God telling Moses what he wants the people to know. When God says he has a message for the people, that should answer a lot of questions, shouldn’t it?

You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession.”

It seems, God has a very simple and direct message for the people:

1) You’ve seen what I’ve done.

2) I continue to do things to bring you to me.

3) Now, keep my covenant and be obedient.

4) And, you will be my treasured possession.

Do you ever think of yourself as God’s treasured possession? God’s message in Exodus and his message for America today is the same, he wants to have a relationship with us.

Do We Want To Get Well?

In John 5, Jesus asks the man who had been crippled for 38 years, “do you want to get well?”.

At first this seems like a cruel, insensitive question, but when you really investigate it and understand the nature of human beings, you begin to understand the reason for his question. After 38 years of people caring for him, do you want the responsibility that comes with wellness?

This was a powerful and revealing question asked to the man in John 5. It’s just as powerful for the men living at The Way…and for each of us seeking Jesus.

Is Hope a Strategy?

There was a very popular business book a few years back called, “Hope is Not a Strategy”.

“…set your hope fully of the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.” 

Actually, hope sounds like a pretty good strategy.

What Recovery Requires

Look at this great message taken from “The Fax of Life” newsletter….

Lots of people have trouble understanding why Josh Hamilton called a press conference last Friday. Told the story he told. Left himself so wide open to criticism. But there is a perfectly good explanation – that some still can’t get even after hearing it. And do I ever respect him for his integrity.

Hamilton is a professional baseball player. An outfielder for the Texas Rangers, he is a very good baseball player. He was named the most valuable player in the American League for 2010. He has been a major part of his team’s success in winning consecutive American League pennants in 2010 and 2011.

Friday’s news conference wasn’t really about baseball though. It was about Hamilton’s relapse with alcohol. You see, the 30-year-old star athlete has battled drug addiction for several years now. While in the Tampa Bay organization, he was suspended for more than three years for his use of alcohol and drugs. He missed the entire 2004 and 2005 baseball seasons – but came back with a vengeance to prove himself both as a star athlete and as a decent human being.

“My life in general is based on making the right choices. Everything as far as my recovery, as far as my baseball goes, it’s all based around my relationship with the Lord,” Hamilton said in Saturday’s news conference. “And I look at it like that, you all know how hard I play on the field and I give it everything I absolutely have. When I don’t do that off the field, I leave myself open for a weak moment.”

It turns out that he had left himself open the prior Monday night. After some tensions with a family member that day, he had three or four drinks at a restaurant. After calling a teammate to take him to the place he was staying, he went back and had several more drinks.

There had been no bar brawl. No auto accident. No pedestrian run over and killed by a drunken ballplayer. So why go public with an alcohol relapse?

People in recovery – from drugs, alcohol, adultery, lying, gambling, or a thousand other things that tend to enslave us – know that the worst thing that can happen is to embrace the old pattern of behavior and not get caught. So it is common practice for someone who really means to recover, get clean, or really change to tell some trusted friends or to make a fully public acknowledgment. To offer an apology. To do what is within his power to make amends for a failure.

Still don’t get it? Then you may be in danger of keeping secret some of the harm done to you or that you have done to others – harm that triggers actions by you that you can’t quite figure out. It can be an explosive temper, compulsive lying, or serial adulteries. It can even be what some of us call neurotic religiosity. Secrets that play out in destructive acts are dangerous. Those secrets kill.

The first step toward healing is always the confession of brokenness. Thus Hamilton’s confession. And thus the prayers of so many of us who wish him well.


 

Josh Hamilton