Living With Joy

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“When I was about twelve years old, my father started drinking. Slowly I noticed the effects of alcoholism on my parents’ relationship and our family. I experienced emotional pain, embarrassment, shame, and anger.

“Relying on God’s power, my dad later sought help and became sober. I resolved to never be like that – until I discovered alcohol myself years later. When I drank, I found an escape from the stresses of my life. This carried well into my college years.

“I knew my addiction to alcohol was slowly destroying my life. By the time I met my now wife, Maryann, I realized there was no way I could have a lasting relationship if I continued living the way I was. I knew I had to turn to the Lord. I found a few guys at our local church who also wanted to overcome addiction to alcohol. Having this small, biblical community helped me surrender to Christ and then start the road to recovery – which, thanks to the power of God through the Holy Spirit in me, has become 41 years of sobriety.

“When I trusted the Lord with my life and my addiction, I found a joy in living. I had dignity and a desire to live. God was so powerful and gracious to show Himself by turning me away from a life that was leading to destruction, and to give me deep peace and joy as I walk with and serve Him.

“I am human, so I still struggle in many ways. But as I've grown in my faith and understanding, God has demonstrated His presence in my life, and I have realized that life is really about Him more than anything else. Life is about loving God with everything I have, to become more like His Son Jesus, and to love those around me the way that He has loved me. (Matthew 22:36-40; John 13:34). My community group of godly brothers and sisters in Christ love me and Maryann, and we love them. We keep each other focused on walking with the Lord, and He does the rest.

“Starting early in our marriage, my wife Maryann and I have each served over 30 years in ministries for adults and children in the different cities where we’ve lived. We developed a deep love and appreciation for God and His Word through Bible studies and biblically based teaching in churches.

“I’ve specifically served with kids for much of my life in Christ because I’ve always felt a calling or prompting to do so. I know kids are impressionable. They absorb so much, and I want them to have accurate truth (John 14:6) to build a good foundation and understanding of the Lord.

“God wants us to love Him above everything, and to love one another like Christ loved us. It’s that simple, but it’s not easy. You must have a relationship with Jesus. You just have to accept the gift (Ephesians 2:8-9). Having kids understand this early will help them have the firm foundation in Christ to sort through all of the noise that is in our culture.

“Along with our 41 years of marriage, God enabled Maryann and I to point our four children to the Lord. God gave us an additional purpose for our marriage with parenthood: To raise our children to know, love, and honor God and His only Son Jesus Christ. We now have grandchildren to pour God’s love into and point to the Lord.

"I have learned that deep soul peace, lasting joy, and godly wisdom come through a relationship with and growth in the Lord. That’s what I want to pass on to younger generations. With my story, I want to share that God has the power to do anything – like turn anyone away from an addiction. He has the power to build a wonderful marriage, loving family, and relationships with others that display His glory.

“I want to encourage others to hang in there and be faithful. Never give up on God, because He promises to never give up on us. Even when it seems dark, just keep seeking Him, and wait on the Lord in His timing. He will work all things out for the good of those who love Him (Roman 8:28). He has demonstrated to me that when you seek Him with all your heart, you will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13). God has proven these promises to me, time and time again.”