Somehow I made it to college and just went on partying, only I began to drink more. I never had been much of a student, so it wasn't long before I started thinking about dropping out and moving on. But I realized that once I was out, I would be competing against people who had finished school.
So I completed college, got married and eventually ended up working with my dad and brothers at an Interstate distributorship out of Memphis, Tennessee. Two-and-a-half years later I returned to Texas to work directly for Interstate's national office located in Dallas. That meant I was on the road a lot, traveling across the country. That first year I was away from home more than eight months, which freed me up to just keep life simple – drinking, partying and selling batteries!
After several years, my wife had decided that sooner or later she was going to leave me. Her father had been an alcoholic, so she knew what she was up against.
Now remember, I'd been getting loaded at least once a week for 20 years, often drinking to the point of blackout. Fridays were the worst. I would always drink and party on the plane ride home. In fact, once I'd had two or three drinks, I'd want to go until everything shut down and/or the bottle was empty. Later I'd feel bad about it, but drinking seemed to ease a pressure that would build up in me every four or five days.
One night back in 1974, I ended up drinking as usual until the bars closed at two o'clock in the morning. Afterward, as I was driving home, I got pulled over by the police. I already had been convicted of two DWIs, but somehow I talked my way out of getting arrested. When I woke up the next morning all hung over, I called in sick to work. Then as I lay there in bed, the truth overwhelmed me. I was an alcoholic just like my father. I'd lost control of my life. That was a frightening realization!
At the very instant I realized I had become an alcoholic, I blurted out in a half-yell of desperation, "God, help me! I can't handle it!" I'll never forget those words, because He took the compulsion to drink away completely. It was over right then. I realize it doesn't happen that way for everyone, but it did for me, and I'm eternally thankful. The weird thing is that if you'd asked me the day before if I believed in God, I would have told you that I didn't know – that I hadn't given much thought to it.
Alcohol is not the only thing that can enslave a person. It enslaved me, but you may be the prisoner of something else. That something else may be gambling. I know guys who can't get through a week without laying down serious money somewhere. Their lives are out of control and they're miserable. But they're hooked. Or how about drugs? Or pornography? Or even food or tobacco?
My point here is not to preach or lay a guilt trip on somebody. It's just that I believe a lot of people can point to some area of their lives where they're not free. They're caught up in a life-wrecking compulsion. Something else is in control. When I was drinking, for instance, I never meant to drink too much, but I always did. The stuff had me. I wasn't free.
Now here's where the gift of freedom comes in. Living the way I was, you can understand that I almost never went to church. Religion meant nothing to me. But along about this time, a friend of mine began telling me what the Bible had to say about life and living it. I quickly cut him off: "If you can show me how I can buy the Bible as the TRUTH, logically with my brain, then I'll pay attention to what it has to say. Otherwise, as far as I'm concerned, it's just another old book, a bunch of people's outdated philosophies or whatever, and I don't need it."
I thought I was throwing a big challenge at him, but he met me head on. He got me some documented books, and I began to research the validity of the data supporting the Bible as God's truth. It was objectively overwhelming, especially in three major areas: archaeological discoveries, the history and weight of manuscript authenticity and most of all, from the proven fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy in the New Testament hundreds of years later. I went over and over that. The supporting evidence was so strong that I began reading the Bible and attending a Bible study.
An important verse for me was, "Seek and you shall find ..." I told God that if He was for real, I was a "seeker" and I wanted to find the TRUTH. So I kept studying.
The Bible says that "Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life." It teaches that we're all "slaves"– not just to alcohol and drugs, but to sin. Each of us has sinned against God and gone our own way, independent of Him. With a self-centered, do-our-own-thing attitude, all of our lives have fallen short of God's intentions for us. Just as the Bible says in the book of Romans (3:23), "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
I knew that was true for me! But the good news is that "the Truth shall make you free," and Jesus Christ is the Truth! So I accepted Him just as the Bible teaches: as my Lord and Savior, as God's own begotten Son who died as payment for MY sins. In Him is the forgiveness of sins and the power of self-control in being freed from the bondage of sin. Jesus is the gift of freedom, the power for living, and He gives eternal life!
You can accept Him right now, just like I did, by repeating this prayer and making it the commitment of your heart. Just pray ...
"Dear God, I want freedom from the slavery of my sin. I believe Jesus is the Truth, and I accept Him now as my Lord and Savior. I ask you for forgiveness of my sins, because He paid for them for me. Please give me the power to live a life pleasing to You. Thank you for this gift of new and eternal life in Christ! In Jesus' name, Amen!"
If you prayed this prayer, I'd like to send you some additional information that will help you grow in your understanding of Christianity and in your faith in God. Write to: Norm Miller, "Growth," 12770 Merit Dr. Suite 1000, Dallas, Texas 75251. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Norm Miller-Searching for Answers?
Man searches in vain, but finds nothing to help him, other than to see an infinite emptiness that can only be filled by One who is infinite and unchanging. In other words, it can only be filled by God Himself. – Blaise Pascal
If you've been searching for some answers, we recommend you read through the following excerpts from Search Ministries booklet, "The Search."
What's the problem?
Many people seek to fill that God-shaped emptiness with pleasure, prosperity or power, anything but God, and yet the emptiness remains.
Because finite things can never fill an infinite emptiness. The search for fulfillment in life must begin with God. Did you know that there is a God who searches for us?
1. The God who searches is a God of love. His desire is to have a loving relationship with us. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." John 3:16
2. However, the God who searches is also a God of perfection. His absolute moral perfection is the standard upon which the relationship is based.
"Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." Matthew 5:48
Imagine you have a glass of cold, refreshing water. Just before you put the glass to your lips, you are told that a small drop of cyanide has been added to the water. However, since it is such a small amount of cyanide, you needn't worry. What harm can such a small amount of poison do to a full glass of cool, clear water?
But you know that no matter how small the dose of poison, it contaminates the whole glass of water. In the same way, God cannot allow even a small amount of sin into heaven lest it contaminate the entire place.
God, in the person of Jesus Christ, took the initiative in searching for us.
1. God substituted Christ's perfection for our imperfection through Christ's death, burial and resurrection. "For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit." 1 Peter 3:18
2. God satisfied both His love and perfection, thereby making a relationship with Him possible.
"In this is love, not that we love God, but that He loves us and sent His Son to be the propitiation (satisfactory payment) for our sins." 1 John 4:10
You can accept Him right now, just like I did, by repeating this prayer and making it the commitment of your heart. Just pray ... "Dear God, I want freedom from the slavery of my sin. I believe Jesus is the Truth, and I accept Him now as my Lord and Savior. I ask you for forgiveness of my sins, because He paid for them for me. Please give me the power to live a life pleasing to You. Thank you for this gift of new and eternal life in Christ! In Jesus' name, Amen!"
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Norm Miller – What's Love Got To Do With It?
How long has it been since you have spent over two months with one person? I'm talking day and night, 24/7! Probably not since being with yo' mama! Well, my wife, Anne, and I – just the two of us – took a once-in-a-lifetime trip in the summer of '03. We rented a 36' motor home in Langley, B.C. (Western Canada) near Vancouver and off we went.
We began planning this full summer getaway trip the previous fall, and after several considerations, our plan evolved into a 5,006-mile adventure from Vancouver, Canada, back down to Glacier National Park in Montana, then North to Canada again, through Banff, Lake Louise, Jasper and on up the Alcan Highway into Alaska, through Anchorage out West to the literal end of the road, Homer! We then made a U-turn and headed back East and South, down the "Marine Highway" on the ferry systems of Alaska and Canada.
It was indeed an adventure for sure, but also quite a challenge. The roads are often mountainous, curving and narrow with little or no shoulders at all. And the days were packed with so many decisions to AGREE on, like WHEN to leave, WHEN to stop, WHAT to eat and WHEN, WHERE to park at night, WHICH spot, WHAT view, HOW private and ON and ON and ON … EVERY DAY! Yes, it was indeed a challenge! I learned many things from this trip – especially these five:
Sometimes even MEAN!
And SO IS MY WIFE!
Anyway, when we turned in the motor home that last morning, Anne and I both shouted with glee, "We made it, we actually made it!"
But, that's not the focus of my story. What I want to express is a wonderful byproduct of the trip.
You see, long before the trip, I began visualizing what each day would be like, and I saw a relaxed casual approach to everything. Thinking along those lines, I decided my mornings would be mine, no rush, no pressure. I LOVE long quiet times alone when I wake and draw near to God through devotionals, Bible reading and just thinking and praying. This is a special time for me.
With all that in mind, I decided I would read the New Testament again, slowly and thoroughly, reviewing the footnotes, reading the corresponding verses – a slow, relaxed absorption of it all by adding this study to my usual morning times with the Lord. How wonderful, I thought. I'll have plenty of time, no rush, just slow and easy. I can't wait!
Fast forward now to only 2 weeks left on our journey and I was only in the last part of Matthew. Can you believe it?! I had not even completed the first book of the New Testament.
It's difficult to explain how this happened, but in reality, I just had not done it. With the long days (sunsets at midnight), I stayed up later. Then the early dawns at 4 a.m. or so made for fitful sleep, plus some medication contributed, as well as a casual procrastinating, relaxed approach to time in general. Looking back over those first six weeks of all that, plus outright laziness, I just didn't get it done.
I was pretty bummed about it, kind of depressed, knowing it was too late to complete my plan, reach my goal, and accomplish what I determined to be "wonderful." I had blown it!
For some reason as I sat there, I began thinking about, what is the one most important thing God desires of and for me? I thought of the time where some lawyers asked Jesus, "What is the most important commandment?" He answered, "You are to LOVE your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind and likened unto that - LOVE your neighbor as yourself."
I thought of the fact that LOVE is a verb, the action word in the most important commandment from God himself. It seemed then that LOVE must be the most important verb (action) in the Bible. Nope, I said, "It must be the verb in Genesis 1:1." In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Created is the first verb and the most important - yes, God's first action – created.
He created us to LOVE Him, then others. Well, I pretty well had known all this not thinking about verbs and all that. I felt I was a pretty good "lover" in general as per the command. I'm thankful and grateful. I pray regularly for His Kingdom – I pray for folks. I try to be obedient, be responsible/spirit-led, a good giver, I help others, try to evangelize, introduce others to the Lord, draw near to God every day, asking for an ever-increasing LOVE for Him and others. I gotta be a good "lover," right?
But my thoughts continued on thinking that if LOVE is my most important action response to God, then what specifically is LOVE? I mused over some scriptures as they came to mind; Scripture says God is LOVE … LOVE covers a multitude of sins. Without LOVE as our motivation, all other actions are empty, worthless, like a bell with no "clangor.” God so LOVED the world that He gave His only begotten son … they'll know you by your LOVE. Now understand, I was just thinking, not making an exhaustive search through the Bible or going to a concordance, etc., just sequence thinking things out.
In my memory, next came the "LOVE Chapter," 1 Corinthians 13. LOVE is patient, kind, not rude, etc. I have read it and heard it, at almost every wedding scores of times, but I couldn't recall all of it, so I turned to it in my Bible and read: "LOVE is patient, LOVE is kind, and is not jealous, does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly, is not rude; does not seek its own, is not selfish; is not easily angered or provoked; does not take into account a wrong suffered, is not resentful; does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with truth; is long suffering, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. LOVE never quits, fails or ends."
I stopped right there and I was prompted to think of this as a "behavior scale" to see how I was doing. Oh, I'm fine, I thought. I have known all this for years I mused until I re-read. LOVE is patient, LOVE is kind, does not act unbecomingly (those three were far enough and more). I had failed all three of them in the last 24 hours!
My 67 days, 24/7 with Anne had partly been a difficult adjustment to which my response was impatience, intolerance, rudeness, anger and arrogance among others! Slowly I realized that in my everyday life, I had also committed these same sins, but interspersed among them were many times of "doing good" also, which diminished their significance (to me).
Confined in the motor home, one on one, day after day, God showed me clearly my true, unloving behavior. There was no getting away from it. Then I experienced even greater shock because this was the first time I realized that this behavior convicted me of failing in my LOVE for God.
I had never equated my behavior toward others as lack of LOVE for God. I think my past approach was that "I'm human;" I'm not perfect; I'll try, then confess when I fail; He forgives me (1 John 1:9), which is true; however, this does not fulfill His intentions for me.
Now understand, that I have always known that this behavior is sin, I just had not thought of it as the sin of me not loving God as per the commandment, "If you LOVE Me, you'll keep My commandments." At any rate, I was convicted right then. Jesus said, "They'll know you by your LOVE." LOVE that is patient, kind, not rude, not self-serving, not envious (jealous), not a braggart, not arrogant, that is not easily provoked, not resentful and all the others. – 1 Cor. 13
The scripture that teaches "Be doers of the Word, not just hearers" came to my mind and that the LOVE GOD AND LOVE OTHERS* command is THE MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL, and it is specifically spelled out in 1 Cor. 13. It is the very foundation of the faith, i.e., first things first. Again, Jesus said, "If you LOVE me you'll keep my commandments." Keep this one and we're a long way along on keeping them all! I felt like God then said to me, "Norm, LOVE IS the New Testament!"
Right then, I made a bookmark and wrote down these "LOVE specifics" from 1 Cor. 13. Since then, I've tried to begin my morning prayers by going down the list, rethinking the past 24 hours and confessing my failures to Him, one by one (if I hadn't already confessed them when they happened).
After that, I start with patience again and go through the list asking God to give me the patience of Christ, the kindness of Christ, not to be selfish or jealous, or resentful or rude, on and on, after which reminding Him that He said He would give me anything I asked for that is in His will!
You know what? He's doing it! I'm loving more and better! I'm happier, slower to anger, less intense, more friendly, i.e., more patient and kind! Less rude, on and on!
I'll close with this question. Can you quote the scripture, 1 Timothy 1:5? "The goal of our instruction is LOVE, from a pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith."
LET THIS BE OUR PRAYER FOR ONE ANOTHER!
*Real Love comes from God and is given freely to those who have entered into a personal, one-on-one relationship with Him. If you're not sure of your relationship with God, please read through the scriptures on the back page.
YOU CAN KNOW YOU HAVE A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD
All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God's paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on Him the sins of us all.
1 John 4:10
This is real love – not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.
For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.
But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn – not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.
1 John 4:15
All who confess that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God.
You can receive God's true love and forgiveness by sincerely telling Him in prayer:
- That you are sorry for your sins;
- That you believe Christ is His one and only Son sent as Savior of the world;
- And that you receive Him (Christ) right now as your Lord & Savior. Amen!
Let us help you grow in your relationship with God.
*These Bible scriptures are from the New Living Translation
Email GodsLove@ibsa.com or write to: Norm Miller
12770 Merit Drive
Dallas, TX 75251