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Insights on Fathering a Prodigal

I wanted to bring you this story because sometimes we don’t hear enough from the father’s point of view when facing a defiant and self-destructive child. Tom Yohe is the real deal, and he has fought hell for the victory with his daughter. Today he shares some powerful insights and feelings about being a father of a prodigal. I asked him, “What would you be the dynamic difference between the father and mother? Do you find that the struggle is similar? Or do you find that you deal with it differently? Please share your personal experience.

Tom and his wife get the hell parents to face when struggling with a prodigal child. Tom shares, “Well, Dena, my wife and I have been in full-time ministry. For most of our married life, we met in college at Christian University. We were in the pastoral ministry for several years. Then we transitioned, went overseas for a one-year stint with Campus Crusade. Then they asked us to come on staff after the end of that year. So we served with them. We were in mission work. Our dream was to serve overseas, but things were going south with our daughter. We first noticed it when she was age 12; she cut herself back then, you know, we just never heard of that as their concept. I had no way to process that. Then as she got into high school, she began experimenting, using drugs and alcohol, and things just went, went south from there. Her high school senior year was a mess. She barely graduated, but it went on for years after that. Again, we were around many full-time ministries, people who weren’t going through this. It was very isolating. We would tell our friends who were looking at universities for their children and tell us, “Oh, my son’s going into there, my daughter is going here.” We were looking for treatment centers, and that’s not a big conversation you want to have with everybody. It was tough, very isolating and a lot of guilt involved. Some people who were friends didn’t want to hang out with us anymore. I guess I could understand it. Maybe they didn’t want their daughters or their children around our daughter. I would probably want the same thing. But why did they isolate from us? Why did they push us aside? So it was, it was hurtful.

Tom shared, “Well, fathers do deal with it differently. A tendency, I think, for many men is to throw themselves into work because they see themselves as a provider. A lot of these things are costly. You know, if you get into treatment centers and counselors and what have you, then it’s easy to say, okay, this is how I’m dealing with it, I’m going to be the provider. I’m going to make sure that the counseling happens or their treatment centers, we have insurance, or what have you. But that’s also their way of escaping and disengaging from what’s happening. And often, the wife, you know, is left to deal with a lot of heat daily. So we were fortunate we were in ministry together, and we were with an organization that gave us leverage or freedom. We explained that we were walking through something hard right now. Then they go, okay, take some time. 

We would pass through. We would take hours, literally, up in our bedroom, trying to get on the same page when we were trying to deal with our daughter because we realized it didn’t take long, that if she found a weakness, she would exploit it. If we weren’t on the same page, we weren’t united, and what was coming out of our mouths, she would be quick to exploit that to get the attention off herself and onto us and get us arguing with each other.

There was a moment when God spoke to me and directed me to the book of Genesis. As I read through that, I looked at that and said, Oh, my gosh, God is a hurting parent. God created Adam and Eve and put them in a perfect environment. They didn’t have all the stuff going on and gave them one boundary and couldn’t keep it. Then they had children, and their son murdered their other son. I mean, it’s practical’s from the beginning. Yes. So I realized that God is a practical parent, and He knows my pain. He understands my fears and every emotion that I’m walking in. I can come to God with that because He’s walking with me. I mean, think about how many rebellious kids he has right now. It wasn’t too long in Genesis that He was ready to wipe out Europe because the hearts of men were so wicked. He said, “You know, I regret I’m grieving over what’s happening here.” Well, that’s the father grieving over what his children are doing. So thankfully, God didn’t wipe us out and had a plan to give us His Son.

There were some points of clarity as we battled the devil over our daughter. Some of these moments were more powerful than others. I would say that the one was when I had to rush to the hospital. Renee had cut herself up so deeply that they had to take her to the hospital. We had gone through so many other things with her, and I didn’t know what to do. God just spoke to me. He said, Tom, “I love you unconditionally. Tell Renee you love her unconditionally.” So when I went into the hospital room, she was so full of guilt and fear. She goes, “Oh, Daddy, I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.” I said, Renee, it’s okay. I said, look, nothing that you’ve done or has been done to you will ever change our love for you. We will love you unconditionally, and we will always love you. That was a powerful moment in our relationship. It wasn’t the end of her prodigal journey. But our relationship was there. And when she got into horrible things, she called us. She called for help. And that was very, very important.

Another important point is to learn about boundaries. We also need to learn how to set appropriate boundaries, and that’s part of it. You know, the verse, I think it’s in Hebrews; “God disciplines those whom He loves.” You know, discipline is not unloving. It’s sometimes the most loving thing we can do. When we set some clear boundaries, Dena and I spent time we figured out what those boundaries were, we figured out which ones we could enforce because I could set boundaries, but none of us were going to enforce them. What good is it? And we explain those boundaries to Renee. She knew them, and she understood them. So there was a very, very hard, hard reality that came to us one evening when she violated the boundary and had to experience the consequences. But in her writing and reflecting, she told us that was one of the most loving things we did, and she doesn’t resent us for it. She appreciated it. As a young boy, my father worked a lot. And he wasn’t in the home a lot. I knew they loved me and stuff like that, but I missed having him around. And I wasn’t the best of kids either. But, you know, if they didn’t discipline me, I began to wonder if they loved me or not because I think love does speak words of discipline at times.

Well, one of the things I got from this journey, fathering a prodigal, was gained a sense of humility. You know, it’s easy to be proud Out of everything’s working right, and you think, Hey, I’ve got this. But there was a deep sense of humility and added compassion for people walking through painful journeys. Unconditional love, you know, is the verse that God manifested His love for us and that while we were sinners, Christ died for us. Christ didn’t wait for us to clean up our act, didn’t wait for us to earn or deserve it. He gave it unconditionally, without concern about our response or lack of. So I think that love needs to continue to be there for our children; just as Christ loved us, we need to love them. Then I believe not to isolate, please, please don’t isolate. That’s the tactic of the enemy. God wants us in the community. That’s why He created the body of Christ, the church, and we’re not perfect as the body. But that’s the place to be supportive, other people who understand and will walk alongside you without criticism or judgment.

About Tom:

Tom and his wife, Dena, have spent the latter part of their lives with a ministry called. “Hope for Hurting Parents. They offer all kinds of resources and small groups. They have helped so many parents that have prodigal children. Please visit their site today.

Here is the link to the ministry: https://hopeforhurtingparents.com/
Here is the link for his book: https://amzn.to/3xR5T9K

Tom has also just released his amazing book, Moments of Clarity: Wisdom from the Father of a Prodigal. In this book, he shares the moments of clarity and wisdom from God he received. At the same time, his family endured the tumultuous journey through the mental illness, addiction, and self-harming actions of a rebellious teenage daughter. Each chapter contains hard-fought moments of clarity that are like refreshing therapy sessions, providing a much-needed deluge of grace.

I pray that this helped us all see deeper into a father’s heart facing a prodigal child for many years. Tom gave us insight into his parent’s broken hearts as he watched his daughter head down a destructive path in life. Yet, God’s redemptive hand moved through him and his daughter, and victory was found.

LINKS & RESOURCES

WEBSITE: https://www.LaineLawsonCraft.com

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DOWNLOAD FREE: Warfare Prayers – Laine Lawson Craft

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Keys to Prevent Suicide

Today we begin the three-part series on suicidal thoughts and suicide. Lori Wildenberg is here with me for the next three episodes, helping us understand suicide and suicidal thoughts in a greater capacity. In our next episode, Lori has her own personal story that we will hear and read about. She is the author of “Messy Hope: Help Your Child Overcome Anxiety, Depression, or Suicidal Ideation.” I know you will want to hear and be a part of the upcoming episodes on suicide. 

Today I  pray that you find more insight and everything you need to know about this complicated subject,  suicide, and suicidal thoughts. 

The frightening stats of the increase in suicide are hard to digest. Here are some up-to-date statistics that will help us understand more:

Teenage girl’s hospital admissions that have attempted suicide are up 50%

The second leading cause of death in this age group

Young men are more successful in taking their lives in suicide attempts

In Colorado alone, the number one cause of death in teenagers and young adults is suicide

The essential part of today’s insights is whether we know if our teen or young adult may be considering suicide or have suicidal thoughts? We can look for these warning signs:

Psychological disorders like depression or bipolar

Drug and alcohol abuse

Agitated, hopeless, irritable, worthless feelings, family history, physical or sexual abuse

Some situational influences can increase suicidal thoughts if a relationship breakup with a girlfriend or boyfriend—a family who has recently gone through a divorce. We need to look deep into circumstances that could increase our teens’ anxiety, sadness, or emotional state.

One of the most significant warning signs to look for is making irrational decisions that make no sense—for example, deciding not to go back to school. If you ask yourself why they are acting like this and making this decision, an extremely irrational decision, this is a significant warning sign.

My friend Lori shares, “My youngest daughter was at college and suffered and struggled with depression. And she called me up and said that she would pack up all her stuff. She would move home, and she would commute to school, okay, commuting to school. The school was four hours away. All right now, she would have an eight-hour commute. That didn’t make any sense. She had quit her job just because it appeared to be on a whim. She impulsively quit her job, packed up her stuff, and made impulsive decisions. 

In the suicidal series episode 2, Lori shares her personal story of how her daughter had an unsuccessful suicide attempt and how they found healing.

Since Covid suicides have gone up 30%, these are frightening statistics for parents of teens and young adults. There is one essential key to knowing what your teen or young adult may be thinking.

The key to knowing our teens and young adults are free of suicidal thoughts is to ask them! And we’ve got to be asking our kids, how are you doing and specifically, How are you doing today? Ask them specifically so that they know that you’re ready for that answer. Ask them I’d like to pray for you. How can I pray? That’s another thing that could lead to more insight into their feelings, but we’ve got to start asking our kids the tough, awful question, “Have you considered taking your life?” That’s a horrible question to ask. But if you’re thinking about that, chances are pretty good that your child has already thought about it. And then they know that you’re ready to have that conversation with them, and they don’t have to protect you.

I have a passion for that question. Because if we don’t ask it, we may regret it because we feel that maybe they are thinking of it. And so I encourage everybody, if you believe your child, your teen young adult, may be thinking about suicide, ask them how you are doing today and ask the most challenging question, “Have you considered taking your life?”

I pray that this helps you as a parent today of teens and young adults learning all about suicidal thoughts.

The most important takeaway is staying connected to our teens and young adults, specifically our prodigal children. These keys will help us see warning signs and better communicate with them. 

LINKS & RESOURCES

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WEBSITE: https://www.LaineLawsonCraft.com

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DOWNLOAD FREE: Warfare Prayers – Laine Lawson Craft

SOCIAL ===============================

FACEBOOK:https://www.facebook.com/LaineLawsonCraft

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/LaineLawsonCrft

IG: https://www.instagram.com/LaineLawsonCraft

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https://lainelawsoncraft.com/warfare-prayers/

About the Author:

Lori Wildenberg

LoriWildenberg.com

 

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How to heal from addict to pastor?

Going from an addict to a pastor has a powerful story that is told by Adam Comer. This is his story.

“I grew up in East Tennessee, the Knoxville area, the city of Knoxville, and I had what I would call the American dream, I did not have trauma or drama in my life. And that is important to mention, because doing what I’ve done for the last decade, a lot of times that is what drives some people to addictions to numb that pain to escape that pain with major trauma and drama. And a lot of times it’s from the people that are supposed to love them the most and protect them. 

Listen to the podcast interview here.

 

But that wasn’t my story.

I played sports, I was popular have two loving parents still do a roof over my head. They were educators dad was a basketball coach. And so I didn’t have anything in my past that would drive me to addiction.

I went to college in Chattanooga. And honestly, that was when some of my major rebellion would start. And looking back I can tell people to and maybe someone watching this can relate- There was something in my life that I was trying to fill. Even in school like high school, I remember I needed people to like me. And so I was popular with every kind of clicks- you know high school is kind of clicky unfortunately, there’s the jocks and the whatever over here and the nerves and the preppies and so I could go around, or I could be whatever anyone needed me to be to have that acceptance. And that was a hole I was I don’t know why, but I needed that. And so I was feeling that looking back. 

But in college, I really began partying, I played basketball in high school, it was only two seniors on our team. I went and tried to walk on at UT Chattanooga, but just found partying was more important. And with women and I don’t know, I just begin to live a life that was chaos. And it felt like it was filling something although I was making that gap bigger in my life, I was losing something. Around that time, Hurricane Katrina hit, I moved down to New Orleans and I injured my back and I was introduced to some pretty powerful prescription pain medication. And that was the moment when I tasted that for the first time this is what I’ve been missing my whole life. That’s what I thought. And I’m in kind of like in Genesis, the enemy convinced two people that had everything that they needed something else and so it’s an interesting trick, but I tasted that and then that just began Chase. 

Again, I grew up in church and then just had a good life. But that began a search and I got to keep continuing to have that feeling. I have to continue to fill that hole that it’s missing. I moved back home to Knoxville didn’t go back to school. And I kind of began to court my my high school sweetheart, I don’t think people say court anymore in 2022. But they could cuz I just did. But she was a preacher’s kid, a PK and like the innocent kind, knew nothing about the life I was living. She thought I was living good. I was going to church and things like that. And she wanted to believe me. She wanted to believe the lies. She was a good woman she knew me. So we ended up getting married. 

And then I was overtime. You know, the Bible says within the dark comes into the life and I just couldn’t hide it money. I was just constantly having to spend money and buy these drugs buy these drugs. I would be making X number of dollars a week on a paycheck or every two weeks and she thought I was making maybe 30% of that and the rest was going to drugs and began to pawn things and begin to steal things to eventually you know, she thought I was having an affair on her. In essence I was with drugs, the same feelings that she had from me always being attention on something else my phone when I was secretive, so the same feelings and affair brings is what she was feeling. And so she confronted me went to the rehabs went to different things, the 12 steps, the NA the AA, and she was so supportive every time she could be there, she was there as a loving wife. 

And then I would get out and I would just relapse AND relapse AND relapse to where she was done. The only woman that I ever loved was done, we separated. At that point, there was nowhere for me to live, I couldn’t even lay my head I’ve stolen from everyone that would allow me to stay on their couch like friends I’ve known for years. Even finally, it came to my parents. And like I said, they’re educators, they would allow me to sleep in their house. But at six in the morning, they knock on the door and say, Adam, you have to get out, because they’re going to work that used to drive me and make me so mad. But it’s like if they did not I’d steal from them. And so just chaos in my life. 

And I remember Googling something, and it was is there such thing as Christian addiction recovery, I guess training a child in the way they should go. And I just knew that this methodology that I was doing, wasn’t working for me. And that’s when a place called S2L recovery popped up. And I was in middle Tennessee about three hours away. And I’m given kind of the PG, PG 13 version just to be safe here. 

But because there’s a lot of death and decay that took place in the before the time that I’m talking about coming up to now a lot of pain to get into that that would take a longer time than we have. But it also I don’t know that some audience members need to hear that. 

And yeah, so you could imagine, I mean, low points in my life. I remember saying out loud to myself in a room to myself talking, which is interesting, But I remember saying there will never be another day in your life that you don’t take a drug. I thought to myself, I needed this just to get up just to have a meeting just to go to lunch just to talk on the phone. It owned me. Right I was a slave to it. Something this big. I did whatever it said, if you go back and listen to the last episode, we talked about desire. I did everything this desire told me to and it didn’t matter who I hurt. I don’t know, I just became a wicked master manipulator that only wanted to serve me as god never thought that that’s what I did, though. I was worshipping idols that, you know, never thought that but that’s what it is. 

I definitely think especially doing what I’ve done the last decade, the men come to us and the darkest seasons of their life. There’s a lot of spiritual warfare that comes with that. So I don’t play around with that. I absolutely believe that. Yeah, I think there’s oppression and possession. I think when it comes to addiction, I think it’s a mixed bag. I think it’s our desires that we’re seeking. But I think the temptation is there, I think situations can come. I don’t want to speak on it too much in the aspect of details. Definitely know that I have seen some very dark things in the ministry that I’m in now. 

True is that kind of how it worked for you listen to this justification that I had. I have a dear friend and by God’s grace, he’s a strong believer, and we are close friends today. In fact, we actually speak together about this was a professional baseball player. He’s my age. Now he doesn’t play professional baseball. But I mean, he was in the major leagues. And so he was one of the ones that would allow me to stay with him. Every morning he had a it was in the offseason. So he was in Knoxville, he just working out and I would stay with him. And in the morning, you’d have Bible study, but I began to steal from him. And my justification was he’d never know. He’s rich, right? He’s a major league baseball player. He’s never gonna know. I mean, this was 1000s of dollars. And so yeah, that kind of justification of how ludicrous someone’s not going to know that there’s money missing from their bank account. Oh, no, it’s odd. You don’t even think that way. 

And I mean, even the desire, think about in the garden like you were talking about? How many have had everything perfect unity with God, before sin. Like that’s heaven. When we get to heaven, there’s no more sin. There’s no more pain there. No more disease, no more addiction, no more divorce, no more anything because we’re in perfect unity with God and the tool of the enemy was to convince people in perfection, that they didn’t have everything that they needed something else they needed another desire and convince them to sin. And so yeah, definitely tricks and temptations and spiritual warfare left and right. But there also is our own flesh, right idolatry I can’t blame the devil for me wanting to be wrong. He might be nice to me, he maybe did this. But I mean, man’s responsibility is also there. And that was my responsibility to choose that, yes, not doing the things that the Word says that we’ll get into, to really help with those kinds of things. 

Now I didn’t know how I was gonna get there to Middle Tennessee to this place called us to a recovery. Christian rehab, didn’t know anything about it. But God did. I landed in Middle Tennessee, and it was immediately different. And we talked about this in the first episode. All of my experience at secular rehab was saying that once I was an addict, always an addict, or a when I came to these places of recovery, I had to raise my hand and introduce myself as an addict, or an alcoholic. And when I came to St. Well, in Middle Tennessee, it was like, don’t you dare say that. If you’re in Christ, you’re a bloodstained child of the kingdom. There’s hope there immediate, and you talked about hope. I don’t know if it was this episode or less. But immediately, immediately, hope began to be born in my life. And that spurred something in me and I wanted to learn more about who this God was who He was and what did He say this about his children. 

So I wanted to learn how to become one of His children, but also when I am what does He say about me? And what does He say about himself. And so I just begin to dive into his word and, and trust the leaders that God put in my life. And He began to grow me and grow me and grow me. And it became easier and easier to not fall into the tricks of the enemy. And also, I mean, like you said, hope spurns things that begin to restore my marriage, because she could hear my voice that was different. This is over a period of time. And so I just began to learn more about who He was, and who He said I was, to where eventually, this place I was at S2L there said, Hey, you want to do an internship. And I definitely as a leader, you know, sort of played sports and got to kind of put that into me, as to be a leader. And so I said, Yeah, I think I definitely feel like to help people. And so I’ll commit to the short term internship, but my wife’s three hours away, and God restored our marriage. So you know, I’m not going to do anything after that. Well, sure enough, after the internship, they asked me to become a full time staff member making $50 a week. Okay. And so it’s like, Hey, let me give you the church answer. I’ll pray about it. Me, and My wife will pray about it, knowing that there’s one, they couldn’t really do that. So I call my wife that, hey, I’ve committed to three days of prayer. Clearly, this isn’t an option. Your parents, my parents, any career I have is in East Tennessee three hours away. But I told him, we pray about it. Let’s pray about it. And by the way, honey, they’re gonna pay me $50 a week. So don’t move here thinking you’re gonna make money, right? And just we committed to prayer. 

On the second day of praying, my wife’s boss comes to her and says, Hey, there’s a potential promotion for you. But you’d have to be willing to move to Middle Tennessee if you want to take it. And she told me that we’re like, really? Okay. I’m hard headed, Lord. But that’s a little bit too much. I mean, I get it, it’s clear. And so I accepted the position, my wife moved to Middle Tennessee. 

And God just began to open doors and grow us as a couple. Grow me in ministry. We have two beautiful children now. We’re plugged into an amazing church and just a began to open doors inside of the ministry and to where now a decade later, the Chief Executive Officer of the very program that God called me to come into and he used to set me free from the chains of addiction. 

Primarily, when I was in the throes of addiction. It was opiates was my preferred, but at some point, I was so needing to numb life because I was so addicted and there’s so much shame of the things that I’d done. And my body physically felt addicted as at some point, it didn’t matter what it was, whatever was available now my preferred would have been opiates, but at some point it was whatever was available to numb to escape to, to not have to deal with the shame in the cycle of guilt and things that I’ve done. So yeah, it was anything and everything. Anything I can get my hands on, I mean, stolen from anyone and everyone pawn things. Just a person that no one could trust, a person that didn’t know who he was a person that was lost and almost believed the world that, you know, this is what you need, oh, my God was money, I wanted to be a millionaire. And so I’m serving that God all the while, you know, doing everything that anybody could tell me to do. 

And I was just the last person, broken, broken person that numb that brokenness and put on a facade of someone who knew what he was doing as a facade of a cocky, you know, using the natural gifts that God birthed me with the serve myself, and not care about anyone around me. 

Now I’m a pastor, a pastor guide really, that was never in the playbook. I’m supposed to be a millionaire. I’m a pastor, I have a heart for people. I care about others. This is so weird. But you know, the verse that I mean, people try to twist the verse, But Delight yourself in the Lord, He will give you the desires of your heart. And my desires are to see others set free. My desires are to see others thrive. Why is that my desire? I don’t know. But it’s because my DNA changed. It’s because I’m not serving self God. It’s because I’m not chasing the Numb anymore. And it’s because I believe that that person that I described, is dead. Yes, he’s been crucified with Christ. It’s no longer Him who lives but it’s Christ who lives in me in the life I now live, I live to him, because he died for me. And he gave himself for me. And I mean, I don’t know how else to describe other than, like, DNA change, and that shame. Now, we can bear good fruit and bad fruit. 

Well, I planted seeds in a life and I had to deal with a lot of bad fruit even after I’m redeemed and living for the Lord. But it no longer sucked me into a place of devastation, and no longer sucked me into a place of depression. Because, you know, I read that He’s with me now into the end of age. And that’s the end of the verse, the beginning of the verse, The Great Commission, but I mean, if you just take the bookends of the verse, All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me, says Jesus, all- not some. And He closes out the verse and I’m with you. To the end of Age, it’s like, okay, I’m the Spirit of God walking with me to deal with this. Now, I don’t have to roll in on myself and make myself God again. And woe is me. You did that? Adam, Woe is me. Woe is me. No, I did that. I hate that I did that I dealt with the consequences, legal, relational with my wife, financial, I had to deal with all of those consequences. But I had a really know, that that’s not who I am anymore. 

Yeah, they really do come in order when God is first. And I mean, there’s a piece that surpass in times of chaos. And it’s interesting that I could see it now on this side of things. When I see the men coming into our program, you know, a see that does that see that hopelessness on their face, and the moment they hear what I heard, there’s hope. I want to be clear, though, and I kind of was but you’re not hearing us say that you come to the Lord, you surrender your life to the Lord, then the rest of your life is rainbows and unicorns. Now, you’ll still lose people. You’ll still have people think and say things badly of you, you still have days that you feel a certain way, they’ll still be troubles. Because the word says so that’s a promise Jesus gave Oh, have trouble. Yes. But he says Take heart. I’ve overcome the world. And so I mean, it’s almost like you deal with life with the power of the Holy Spirit. And so it still hurts. You’re still paying. But it doesn’t drive you to despair. It doesn’t drive me to devastation and chaos, to be honest. Our whole deal is we’re teaching people how to suffer. Yeah, learn how to suffer and apart from God on this planet, like we talked about earlier. But separation from God is suffering. 

Thank you God for overcoming the world and for you son Jesus now I am set free from addictions and now serving as a pastor to help others find freedom, wholeness, and healing.

If you would like to connect with Adam please contact S2Lrecovery.org

 

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Addictions – Everything We Need to Know

Everything we need to know about addictions and the power of them too. We could spend hours about addictions and the power of them the strongholds. And really, you know, we were just discussing off record about how addictions, the world tells us one thing, and God tells us another. So today we’re going to talk about addictions. We’re going to talk about how we can get through life without them.

Adam Comer is here in the blog too this is so awesome. Listen, your heart. I mean, your destiny, your purpose is that you help people with addictions Adam.

Adam replies, “Amen. Yeah, that’s right. I didn’t ever think that that was what I would do when I grew up. But absolutely, that is the path and the calling that God’s placed on my life for sure.”

There’s something about experiencing healing or experiencing the hand of God like Adam has versus reading about it. 

What are your thoughts about addictions? 

Adam responds, “Oh, goodness, well, I mean, to kind of tease what we might be talking about next blog. But I really believe that addiction is the forgotten pandemic, or epidemic if you want just to say this country, but it’s a pandemic. And it’s not a lot of attention, I would say the newest data that we have, and it’s amazing that it came out this quickly. But from May of 2020 to May of 2021 100,000 people died of drug overdose. That is astronomical. That’s more casualties than the entire Vietnam War era, which was 17 years. I could go on and on about that. But that’s just drug overdose, that doesn’t include the deaths that come from alcohol, that doesn’t include the devastation that comes from pornography, that doesn’t include. I mean, that doesn’t include any of the chaos, just drug overdose. And to be honest, probably 80% of that is opioid opiate-related. And so it is a problem. And as you hinted to in your intro, the solution that we’re given the solution that’s been the standard for the last 50-60 years, has been almost behavior modification almost outside-in approach, but it also would entangles into your identity, it’s so tied to your identity, you have to say, Hello, my name is Adam, and I’m an addict before I’m allowed to speak or engage in a meeting, it’s taught that in the 12 steps, that you’re always going to be this, and that is a hopeless situation.”

 If I’m always going to be something if I’m doomed to just remission of this thing- Man, there’s no hope there. 

But that’s not what the Word of God says. The Word of God says that who the son sets free is free. Indeed, it says if you’ve been crucified with Christ, it’s no longer I who live but it’s Christ who lives in me. And he says, you’re a saint if you’re in him, that you are a bloodstained child of the kingdom, how dare I say anything different than what he says? How should I call, and I’ll just say this, and it is a big deal, and I don’t want to get you on a soapbox. Identity is a piece that is such a big deal. Because even basic psychology 101 If I call a little girl ugly her whole life, she’s going to grow up and think she’s ugly. And so if I call myself something, my sin or my past, or if I tie my whole identity to that, I mean, you could just imagine the devastation that comes. 

When God says that if you’re in Him, you’re a saint. And I’m here. I mean, obviously, the Spirit of God is omnipresent. He’s everywhere. And I can just imagine because I went to 1000s of meetings. After being born again, I could just imagine myself calling myself that, man. No, I paid for that. That’s been buried with my death, burial, and resurrection. It’s what baptism is all about. And it’s like we’re missing the mark. And so I think I answered your question, but I kind of want passionate about this, as you can tell, speaking from a different point of view about identity.”

When I was going through this with my three children, and boy, did we go through a lot, whether it was alcohol, drugs, whatever, my kids kept saying to me, I’m just doing what everybody else is doing. I’m talking about identity. You know, these kids, they don’t want to be isolated. They don’t want to be made fun of or bullied. So many times they surrender to these behaviors that become addictions because they’re just doing what everybody else is doing. Do you agree with that? 

Adam replied, “Yeah, I think. I mean, you’re talking about like, in like trying to drugs or trying? Yeah, yes. Yeah, there’s definitely peer pressure. I heard a story, a national story the other day, I want to say last week, maybe two weeks ago, and I can’t remember what state I want to say Florida. But it was just a high school kid playing sports. The report is he’s never done drugs before. But he went with a group of guys. And he went, and they were handing out what looked like prescription medication, probably pain prescription medication. And he took it and took one drug one time, his whole life. It was a fake pill. It was a fentanyl pill that was made to look like a Percocet or something like that. And it killed him.

And so I think peer pressure, I definitely think any category, not just addiction, but any kind of lure that the world has that shiny lure that when you bite into it, it really hooks you and grabs you. I think peer pressure and the flesh, wanting to fit in wanting to go with the flow. I definitely think that plays an issue in addiction for sure.”

Yes and you know, addictions can be diseases. For instance, you can have generational curses, what we say, or you can have a parent or grandparents that have an alcoholic gene that you possibly unbeknownst to you might have inherited. Again, what I’m getting to is addictions are everywhere, Adam, and we cannot stay in that identity as you said, as we go through recovery. And we are set free. We have got to renew our minds and our new identity. We want to talk about that later, for sure. Back to the fentanyl I have been reading lots about this, Adam, what is happening all over the country in the United States. We’re getting it from China, we’re getting it from Mexico, what is happening, it is not just Percocet’s it’s Xanax, like, all of these things look like you are taking a prescription medication and these kids don’t know it’s not. And many kids, athletes all around the country, Homecoming queens, kids that literally they’re not addicts, they literally have never had a lifestyle of habits of drugs and alcohol. They do it one time and they’re dropping dead Adam, they’re dropping dead.

Adam shares, “It’s so dangerous. I mean, you’ve probably seen it or your audience has seen that this picture where it takes this much heroin to kill someone, it takes this much something but then there’s just a few specks of dust of the fentanyl to kill a grown man.”

Yes. And so if you’re a young woman, you know, 15-16 years old it says a grain of sand. Do you know what the size of a grain of sand is? That can be deadly. That is a war. I believe that is a war against our children to have a child not even has a second chance.

Adam said, “I want to say that there was a seizure of fentanyl not too long ago that it was enough to kill every American in the country.”

Incredible. So today we’re talking about addictions. Sometimes we confuse addictions with really just choosing self-destructive behaviors. Can you tell us, Adam, what do you use as a definition for addiction? 

Adam answers, “Yeah, and I’m glad you said that. I think that you mentioned disease. And I think by definition, I’m just careful with wording that because what I believe the world does when we label a disease one, it’s for-profit, to how do we treat disease in this country, with medication. And so now we have the same people who made the opioids that really sparked this massive pandemic, where it went from, I don’t want to get you into much trouble videos, the pharmaceutical companies making opioids and then all of a sudden everyone’s becoming addicted to them. And then now we’re supposed to trust the same company that makes the drug to get off the drug. And I’m seeing more and more guys coming onto our program that are trying to get off the drug that was given to them to get off of a drug. And so I’m just careful with saying it’s a disease by definition, it can be. I think, biblically, though, even the way that you describe it, there are so many other different addictions. 

I think biblically, it would be idolatry. And the aspect of not adultery, idolatry, but in the aspect of I’m exchanging the glory of God and His promises in my life to deal with things for bootleg cheap substitutes. And I think that goes for anything whether it be you’re addicted to work, you’re addicted to pleasing your children, you’re addicted to whatever it could be alcohol, drugs, porn, you name it if you’re exchanging what God says for a bootleg cheap substitute that you know ends badly you only have a history that ends badly that’s  idolatry.”

Thank you for saying that to Adam, because we don’t talk about this enough.  It’s a very unpopular view. You’ll get emails about this and so a lot Oh, yes, yes. Anything we put before God? Anything that we’d like you said substitute, feeling loved, feeling you know, peace, feeling comfort, man, you know, you can reach for that drug you can reach for the alcohol but that’s idolatry. That’s really idolatry because it’s substituting the realness of what God can be in your life and I love that with addictions, how do you deal with it? Adam? You know, we’re going to talk more about how you’re a pastor, you’ve got your own personal story. When you say to possible people that you mentor or minister to, how do you deal with them about the topic of addictions?

Adam replied, “I’ll probably repeat myself when we go into some other things. But I mean, I think in general, for me and on a baseline and not to be funny, or not to just dismiss it, but to really bring it back down to the absolute truth and absolute truth is addiction is not a surprise to God. So He must discuss this in His Word. And so someone that’s listening, and honestly, anyone that’s listening, but especially someone who’s listening who’s really battled an addiction, whether that almost to a chemical, and I’ll include pornography in that, because there is a chemical addiction attached to that that goes off in your brain, someone who’s battled a chemical addiction, the word desire is elevated, because of a desire to fulfill that feeling or whatever it could be, we would do- I did awful things, things that I never thought I would stealing, you know, and could hear the stories of kids being left in car seats because the mom went in to fulfill this desire.

So I see in Second Peter chapter one that the Bible addresses that desire. And in fact, contrary to what the world tells us, right, that you’re always going to be an addict, that you’re always this, you’re just one thought away. The Bible says that we can escape Second Peter, the corruption that’s in the world because of sinful desires. Now, that’s a microphone drop verse for someone who’s battling addiction because that desire is strong.

But the Bible said the absolute standard of truth said that we could escape this desire, and then it goes on. And it tells us how, and that’s actually the chapter that we created our curriculum from, and it’s sanctification, it’s growing in your faith. But if God says, you can escape it, that’s way different than I was taught. Yeah, Adam, you’re always going to be this once an addict, always an addict. And yet, the word of God says, you can escape the corruption that’s in the world that comes through our sinful desires. 

Wow. I mean, that’s mind-blowing. I wish I could have seen this. I wish I didn’t have to suffer in the pain and all these things and cause the chaos in my family’s life for so long. I wish I would have known this sooner.”

Wow. And you’re right in the warfare, parenting mindset right there because it’s the power of God. It’s the power of His word. It’s the hope that He is still healing and delivering people today. Right, Adam? Because He is I see it all the time, don’t you? 

Adam says, “Oh, yeah. If people would actually believe the things that they say and claim to believe, man, life would be a lot different. We’re not promised prosperity and health and all those things. But there is a peace. There is a one who walks with us there is I mean, look at the heroes of our faith, they beat the mess out of them. And they left rejoicing. Well, why that is the same spirit that was at work and alive in at work in them is at work in us. And I’m telling you, if people would believe the things that things they say they believe in, dive in. And I’m not shaming people, I’m almost calling people we have a saying that we feel like God is really put on us, but not S2L or Adam, but kind of the community. And it’s from the rooms of recovery comes the revival of a nation. And this nation needs revival. 

And then if I look at the heroes of our faith, it is kind of people that the Bible was clear to show their mess. Yeah. And what better of a people group that have just been in the pits of hell that have seen the devastation that has been Outcast that has been just looked at as damaged goods, that’s prime cooking for the Lord. So we have some strategy that was part of the documentary that we’re going to talk about and moving forward with that, and kind of encouraging and unbolting the church that addiction is not a surprise to God.”

Amen. And you know, one of the things I’ve learned Adam, in my studies recently is that hope is cultivated, you know, hope is something, you know, people say, oh, have hope that God can heal you hope is cultivated, and what the testimonies it says in Revelations, it’s by the blood of the Lamb, and the word of our testimony, that defeats the enemy. And you and I are in defeating the enemy. We want to win this war. We know it can be one, we’ve seen it one, and we want to help everyone in the sound of our voices today. We want to cultivate hope in your heart today that God is moving and breathing and healing. And you can renew your mind through the power within you. Like Adam says, all of these heroes of faith, they were messes, and God made a message. And that’s what we serve, isn’t it Adam, a God that comes in and truly transformed lives so much so that we want to shout it from the mountaintops? Amen. 

Adam declares, “Yes, and I mean, you’re going to hear this If you read the next blog, you’re going to hear my story. But I’ll go ahead and tell you, I don’t proclaim all of these truths that you’ve heard in this segment because I’ve read all the addiction books. Now actually, I have that common to go back to school and study and counseling and things like that. So I have done that. But the reason I speak with boldness is from the authority of God’s word. But my own testimony, as you said, like it’s too late for someone to tell me this doesn’t work. You’re in stages of my life, that you’re too late to come and try to convince me it doesn’t work because I’ve walked through it. I’ve tasted it, I know what freedom is, my DNA has literally changed and so weird to say, because not really my DNA, but the desires of my heart are now like, matched with what God wants not seeking something that’s an idol.”

Amen. And let’s we are going to get to your testimony because it is powerful. That is our next blog; Adam is going to come in. And again, it’s by his testimony. And when he talks about his testimony, and we match it and couple it with the blood of Christ, God will do it again. And again, I believe the root word of the Hebrew word of testimony is to do it again. Every time we share our testimony, God will do it again for you. Listen, I know this too Adam, God resurrected my marriage- 17 years in a dead marriage. We were on opposite ends of the house, having a book to prove it. But also I’ve tasted and seen that the Lord is good. I’ve seen my daughter healed from illness that the doctor sent her home to die modern medicine said she’s going home to die and we prayed and God brought her healing- my children all three had addictions and depression and all kinds of things the world have layered upon them. God delivered them and set them free.

Addictions can be overcome by the power of God! I pray this post brought you hope today.