24 I got into cocaine. And that was my drug of choice. I could drink more, be a wide awake drunk. And then I start dealing, it’s more of a habit. So f1 me down a whole different road, and I got eight or nine years of not having income, all my social security, which affects me now. gonna have a lot more. But uh, got picked up on a DUI. And now the jail date, and I didn’t go do it. And so they picked me up a couple months later. And I just do my time going from the judge. The first time you gave me 30 days, or 100 a year, all suspended except for 30 days. Well, the second time you drop the hammer on me and said, When yours Yeah. Okay. So I accepted it. And I started doing my time and somebody said, request Northumbria bill notation center. It’s jail that doesn’t have no walls. No reverse. And so we get sent downtown to do detox, detox patients and clean the detox hospital. And I got in jail, I got in treatment. Sign up for treatment. When I first got there. I was in and out of jail. And 120 days out of the year got released. Wow, this is really cool. Yeah. And then I looked up and I have no girlfriend and she has some coke and help yourself. So if she taken a shower, help myself, give me 35 bucks when I left I was pretty cool. Walking distance home. In the second weekend. elliptic world dealing buddy in want me with him because he knew I didn’t need to be around him. But I finally convinced him that I did. You know, course he put this big rock and for me. And I, you know, took it took the whole big rock and it messed up my stomach in my head. No. I felt this way. The whole time I use cocaine. I never want to feel this way again. And I surrendered to drugs and alcohol. December 9 1988. And from then on its and doing my two year deferred. Or my DUI. do four meetings a week.
And I did 10
and my probation officers to the guy wish I had more people like you in life last month of probation. She was I’m so disappointed in you. And I go, Why?
She goes because you’re relaxed again. I didn’t know I didn’t. She was warm inside.
said you did? I said no. There’s another guy named Fred be you see Ah, he without the are sick all the moment. It was that guy just Oh, I’m so relieved. And often so yeah, with me too. So I did my two year difference. By that time I was so well into a greeting people as they come to the door, speaking in front of people don’t my story.
Then I met my wife.
her ex husband was taking me to meetings. And he goes you’re on your own this weekend because I have a date. And the bar is well there’s always Margie. Margie, we can go to cleaning silver dances. We did. Anyway, we’ve been married 23 years now. And that’s pretty much my story separate. I had seven years when we moved back to Montana from Seattle. And I’ve clearly cumulative most of my time here your first day in
And I went to Mills idle in a ball joint and this guy was talking about San Diego. I go, you just have to grow from there. I asked him if he is a friend of Bill boss. Because Yeah, I just got back from San Diego world convention. Oh, cool. I was at the Seattle real convention. That was something else in the kingdom. That many alcoholics all over the world. And a panoramic view. I know exactly where I was to me and my wife were wearing the same shirt. We had to see that a alcoholics one place was pretty good. And then he told me about a man had a meeting on Sunday night was at a meeting two days after my doctor
said What is your upbringing? life? Like? I know a lot of what we talked about yesterday, you can probably relate with what Fred Yeah, walk through as well.
Well, I was younger than
I was raised in a very strong Christian home, my dad is still a pastor. And we deep in it even to this day. But you know, for the first five years of my life, I basically lived five different places. Five different states. Just we moved around a lot. And so when when I was six years old, after my sixth birthday, we moved from upstate New York back down to where my parents grew up. And I was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana. And it was there, we spent eight years there, and I got saved there. And I remember to this day, seven years old, sitting in the gym, because we’ve outgrown auditorium, that the church had this gym it and I remember getting saved, and so, and I really latched on to growing as a Christ follower during that time. And I could I could tell you all the Bible facts I just was
there we go. I wasn’t on. It wasn’t I gotta click the button.
I mean, like, I had to do this, and he’s a pastor, a technocrat journey.
But so I was a good kid. And I was really growing my walk with Christ, even as a, you know, eight, nine year old and
was going on pretty good. But then, you know,
there’s changes that occur in a guy’s body, not long after that. And so puberty really distracted me. And girls and stuff like that. And so I kind of let all of my I just kind of became a normal kid wasn’t pursuing God, like I had been. And but going on, I wasn’t a bad kid, I was a skater. But you know, not the worst, but we just going through life, and then we moved into my eighth grade year. And this is where this has a planet promise. So with being a preacher’s kid, Southern Baptist preachers get, you know, alcohol ever around alcohol, anything, but so we removed literate years, all my childhood friends and everything and said, well, you have to move to Houston, Texas, and have upset it kind of hurt. But you know, you’re now in ninth grade, or doing giant in school and everything baby different than I kind of got some pretty good, okay, we’ll all of a sudden, we move again, at the end of my ninth grade year. And this was getting old, you know, giving up friends of getting show me in and doing this. And he really kind of sent me into the tailspin. And some go and moved to Memphis, which you get rid of the Memphis is just not a good place.
It just, it’s it’s not.
But so going with the myth is in kind of depressed, a lot of pain, a lot of anger, about having to move because you know, your dad’s your dad’s a pastor, and God called him to another church. So who’s to blame here? You know, you want to kind of blame him and God, this stuff. And so I was just kind of getting an attitude about how much I really cared, in general. And so I was looking for something to relieve the pain. And I found it when I found it in a lot of different chemicals. And just kind of, but the thing about most drugs and alcohol that you guys know, is that if you’re depressed, and you keep drinking heavily, that doesn’t relieve your depression. Right? It just makes it worse, it doesn’t feel like it’s the time because it feels like you’re leaving the pain you’re not. It feels great. But I just kept spiraling more and more and more into my depression and became suicidal and finally ended up in the psychiatric hospital and death rate. And
for vaping suicide. And
I took a lot longer in the program than it was opposed to I was in there over 90 days. Because it took me a couple of months to kind of figure out that I had to change. I want to change nobody that none of us want to change, we want to inflict change on others, but we don’t like to change ourselves. Right. And so became to where I came to the point where I was sitting at your desk, I had this the maybe a Bible and, and sitting there and I had to choose
if I wanted to live
when I want because I knew I really wanted to smoke a cigarette and go
get a drink.
But I’ve locked up the force, but I couldn’t. But I was like, okay, but the realization hit me that there’s life and
I can choose the
news, life or death. And knew that if I were to get out, even though I hadn’t done anything in two months, or whatever, I could get out and I would go to go back to the way I was I wouldn’t.
I would kill myself.
And so when that reality, and that’s something, the reality of that is, is that you can’t you can’t run from that. And you were faced with this, can you I want to live my my live in here’s what it takes, it’s going to take some there, or do I want to die? What I’m going to do and so I just like to know, in the passage of scripture, talk about life, Jesus came that you might have life and have it abundantly. And so like that became very important to me. Now, I wish the story just kind of was rosy from there. I mean, it is I just lots of good things happen. I, not long after I got out I was really growing again. God calling me to ministry. And I was in Missoula, Montana when that happened on a missions trip and kind of knew that God wanted me in this area. And so began preparing for ministry with the Ministry didn’t and did lots of different ministry things. I’ve been in ministry since I was 17, from student ministry, street ministry, small groups, Pastor, country, Pastor, church planter, you know, doing all of these things we move that goes forward with, we have some kids and stuff, and we moved to Montana. And during all that time, I never had anything great because you’re in a culture that you that you don’t do that Montana is different. If you haven’t noticed, and it’s kind of a kind of a thing, that’s it’s almost expected your guy, you’re going to, we’re going to sit with the guys, we’re gonna have some beer. Right? mean, that’s Montana country. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Things went fine for a long time, I started drinking socially. And just to be one of the guys I learned to like beer, I never really liked her before. And life was good. You know, the church plant, I was a part of that I started here in Boston, did that procedure struggled one foot from the other every day, and we had 50 to 80 people is all we had. So just putting that one foot in further and one foot from the other, struggling with that, and working it in issue to pay the bills, and I got four kids now and all these, all this is going on journey starts and I’m still working in a shoe and I’ve got this job. I just told Troy over there that I hate talking on the telephone. Because I spent two half years in the basement of really library. And I miss you doing it support over the phone 80 calls, or so a day I hate.
I hate talking.
But it’s I needed a better job. I got this job. I came away from that to being an assistant director of the Alumni Association. What do you think of Alumni Associations?
What do they do?
I said I jokingly say my job description is to drink and spam. Because I did I would send out all the emails and stuff like that all it is, but see, I was flying I would show for the events, you know, socially acceptable drinking and stuff like that. Did that for four years. But depression is starting to creep in. I didn’t know at the end, I could see it. I mean, then I took another job in the same building. as Director of Information Systems with an issue Foundation was tasked as part of the job with doing a system migration from a legacy system to a brand new system in the part of the contract with the software vendor was where they have five hire five additional staff in would take 24 to 36 months.
This has a point
where once we get into it they say not to hire the staff and what have you done 18 months.
So I like that left me and two other people to do this stuff. In addition to all of other stuff and imagery was growing by leaps and bounds, this is what you’re going into the stadium project and all this other stuff. So things are get ramping up big time. And so I’m working 8090 hours a week, double members within. That’s what kind of when I started hanging out with Doug some It was hot Life was hard. And so you’re you’re to the grindstone, like that, and you’re dissatisfied, you’re getting angry, I swear this would happen to me, I was angry as having to work so much. I was, you know, I’d get home, he made sure I was home for dinner with the kids, kids, then I will just sit with my laptop, and a bunch of beer, just drink, do work, right? SQL queries, you know. And, but it says, so lonely spiraling into this depression, and trying to self medicate this, this anger, this pain that I’m feeling the disappointments and you know, by this time I’m in the 30s or so. And you know, life’s not really turned out exactly how I thought it was going to different directions and stuff. And so do that for four years. And then when I was a super volunteer journey, during this time was doing all kinds of stuff. Leading the setup team, the tech team and doing all that stuff. And eventually, Brian Hopkins says Sam your day jobs getting in the way of what I need you to do a journey. So I cannot start the journey as one of the pastors. And
thinking that we don’t release everything right.
Depression spiral, continued.
I just wasn’t alone in my depression spiral.
And the drinking kept getting worse and worse and worse. And, you know, it wasn’t like I was drinking at work or eating. That be funny. But a
church drinking at work?
Yeah, we’re doing, you know, I was doing my job, what’s your thing, but I was getting angry, I’m kept getting angrier and angrier. And I’ve discovered since then, is I watch it and other people I do a lot of the pastoral counseling and journey.
And that depression and anger tend to go hand in hand.
And I was getting angry, and I was getting, I was just PC with everybody around me. I didn’t know why I would just anything would set me off. And of course, you know, I was still drinking it. I go home, eat dinner and family and then sit there and start watching TV or working still through gets a beer. And you I never got a DUI or anything like that, by the grace of God. I could have a few times. But it was more obvious what was going on with me and I was substitute substituting
what God want to do with my life without
self medicate was like it like in Troy just talk about having an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. You know, we’re it’s becoming more important than anything.
people were telling me, maybe drinking too much.
Lots of people think you may be drinking too much, because I smell like a drunk all the time. I was drinking every night alive.
Right on it was a lot. But
so we kind of came to the same direction where I’m kind of suicidal and thinking about death and life. You know, here, I’m supposed to be the face that the face of what a good Christian supposed to be in a tree full of joy and peace. And I told myself, I still had those. But I’m still in this hole deep in this hole. So I finally said, Well, I can’t I can’t. This has got to stop. To which account which your therapist, it’s, I wish I could say went to therapist couple times. And bam. It was awesome. Now it took me three years to climb out of that hole. And struggles with alcohol wanting to self medicate and self medicating and going round and round and not realizing how much damage I’ve done to my family during all that time. And trying to cope with that and get where Okay, I realized that I have to be very, very careful with
that, yes, I still drink every once in a while.
One, maybe maybe two. But I have to watch myself, I have to have people hold me accountable
to what I’m doing.
Because I like it a lot.
And so watch myself and going down that hole. And I think that’s where a lot of I see a lot of guys in Montana,
played with the whole on the edge of the hole and
covered up some stuff in alcohol and stuff like that. And so kind of my warning right here is just be careful, because I know we’re running.
Yeah, one of the things that you hit on there was just the accountability aspect. And I know Fred, you went through the A aspects you had people alongside of you. Maybe if you fell, they were still there and they held you accountable. They didn’t gloss over it and say how you on the back end.
But what a real Absolutely. I go are taking you to me,
right? So then the same thing with you. And I have part of my story as well as I had these people that were willing hold me accountable and say, hey, that’s not who you are professing to be. And that’s such a big part of it. Because that’s the thing that I ran from during my time of drugs. I don’t I don’t want anyone to tell me what to do.
At all. Accountability only works as much as you’re willing to be honest and engage in it. Yep.
Because it’s easy to fake it. Yeah. But it’s it’s up to your own integrity and honesty.
Yes, I love that word. That was one of the things that you said yesterday to and rereading is just the power of not just one of those accountability circles. But when you start talking about it, and it’s out in light. There’s so much more power that gives you to start overcoming those sorts of things, I would imagine it was the same type of deal. And he started to acknowledge that these were things that you were dealing with. But now that they were out there you could you actually knew what you were fighting and you had people fighting with you for you. Is that accurate? Would you say it read?
Yeah, I’d say it’s pretty accurate. And then, you know, being being a newcomer, when I first got there and then accumulating years, at a lot of people behind me looking up to me. Don’t let them down, let alone let myself down. Yep, there was this old guy that give us from Butte, Montana, he had a 45 year chip passing around the room. And I get all of that chip. And I want I want to chip
like less than a year.
And I got 30 years today only got 15 more to go.
Hopefully, that’s not the only thing you told me you still keep
what has to say about with myself as well. But what has life been like after accepting Jesus and kind of confronting those demons if you will, doesn’t sound like it got
easier for you know it? I mean,
it can it can rethink your spiritual life, your life with Christ, as again, you’re either gaining altitude or losing altitude, you’re headed into the darkness towards the light. Like the what the email said this week, you know, you’re heading one way or the other. There’s no you don’t just coast and lot of times we want to come in, we want to treat our walk with God as kind of a we want to come in on Sunday, and we punch card, right? We did our thing we pleased everybody gives us a little bit of boost in our spiritual life. And then we’re going to go back to life again on Monday. And do we want to do instead of walking in it, and letting the walking towards the light and working towards that light in the life? throughout the week, we want to kind of do just enough to keep our heads above water spear Jeff,
what are some of the steps that you take on a day to day to make sure you continue to pursue the light in the life of you talk to you and the life that Jesus gives us.
That’s what the bad thing is, is those steps are really simple. And we know them. You know, spending a little bit of it’s been 10 minutes praying and reading your Bible, two minutes. Two minutes, guys, it’s not hard to read a chapter of the Bible and few minutes praying, meditating.
That’s what I tell people all the time. If I can get you to do 10 minutes
a day, you will be amazed at how much you can grow and how much you can that can affect your life. Forgiveness. I think forgiveness is one of the biggest seeds. And he teaches that to that resentment is what will kill you and it will kill you. I figured out that, you know I was angry. Because I had all these resentment and bitterness built up in my life over stupid stuff that nobody cared about. And I didn’t have time. I didn’t know what that was. And so I had to go through it. And it’s like, it’s the first step to make your list of everybody that’s wronged you, and you forgive them.
And I have to do that continually.
To keep the anger from building up because it builds up, I counsel me to come in their wives drag them in and, you know, their says he’s just he’s mean to me all the time. We used to be great. And I’m just sitting here, you know, it was like, Yeah, you’re just sitting there and you’re busy and you’re meeting everybody around you. Is it for you. You’re pissed at everybody pissed at people like that from going on. I told the guy who thought he said, I want you to think of somebody, you know, raunchy. Did you want these, okay? And I said, Okay. You think you forgive him? I forgive him. Okay, he watches the door. How do you feel in your gut? You know, you can’t see him physically tighten up. I said, Yeah, no, you haven’t forgiven him yet. If that’s how you feel when you think about him walking through the door. And we have anger and all these things. We preach let it go. Leader forgive people. And so yeah, that was wrong. That sucks.
Okay, didn’t treat me right.
It’s not right. But okay, but let it go. Because you’re not helping yourself by holding on to, and then choosing not to get angry. Because it’s not worth it. I’m a guy I have about this much emotional energy. And when I blow it all in a temper tantrum, you know, a miserable thing. And I want to talk to you about I want to treat my wife your family. Good, right, guys? I mean, right? Because usually, it’s stupid stuff that a coworker says, Even I experienced that.
I will tell you who doesn’t the most, but that’s probably
I’ll keep that quiet. But you know, it’s the
Why would you ever get angry and angry traffic eek, specially in Bozeman.
California drive a little bit like idiots, we know that.
But I lived in Memphis and Houston, that’s traffic, it’s still not worth it. It’s not worth it to run your day, over stupid things. Because you know, your kids, you’re going to get at your later and really get some to be angry about but still even then not blowing up. choosing not to getting I’m not talking about stuffing your anger. But choosing not to get angry. saying it’s not worth
you touched on that forgiveness part of it. And Fred to kind of wanted to touch on about a little bit yesterday. But has it been difficult for you guys to forgive yourself for the choices that you’ve made growing up with the alcohol and the drugs? And those sorts of deals? I know I really struggled with that. How do I forgive myself for those sorts of choices?
Well, for me, I think it was easy to forgive myself just because I knew forgiving is growing. And without forgiving. You can’t grow. So it is forgiving yourself of somebody else has done you wrong. Or people that treat you wrong is don’t associate with them. Because they haven’t forgave themselves and they’re actually people that bad mouth you whatever are people that are insecure about themselves? Not so much that you are their focal point. But it’s them hiding behind their own feelings. Yeah.
Yeah, I would say the hardest. When I’ve had myself. A, there’s some regrets that are deep.
in me, especially around my family.
In the time, I timed all the time I lost with them in the critical times of their lives, you know, during middle school and high school, was when I was in this hole, and creating damage to them not being the dad I should have been. That’s hard. That’s really hard. So guys, we young kids,
keep it together, do take the right path, because you will, you will.
You will long for those days again, and asking God I asked God every day to redeem those years. For me,
yeah, I would say is Robin,
take the time around the tables to to look at these men beside you. Because they can be the ones that are holding you accountable right now. So you don’t have to go through stuff like that. There’s just such value in bringing those things to light. Before we get down that path where those regrets just become a salad part of who we are.
So we’re going to kick it back to the tables and just hopefully facilitate some discussion around that.
You know, that is that that secrecy? Is the lack of integrity. That creates, and that’s what’s key. That’s part of what keeps it hold it. We can’t let anybody find out. You want to do this, you know, but it gives it makes you feel better and all this stuff like that. But it’s in the secrecy and bringing it to light. And having a few people that you can say, look, I think I’d like to
I was going to say,
then you say if someone says to you, I think you might be drinking too much? Or do you think you drink too much? As long as you think?
Somebody says that to you?
You should take them seriously. Because you probably you probably have an unhealthy relationship. And be looking into that and asking yourself, why am I doing this? Why? Because, you know, normally people Healthy People do not need to self medicate.
It’s when there’s something wrong, something wacky
is when we need to do that. And a lot of times a lot of guys who don’t drink Dave, they’re they’re self medicating other things. Covering other weaknesses of the SEC, anything sex, sports, someone who’s their whole focus is on one football team. Their whole life is lived around the bears, or whoever. But, you know, that’s, you know, what are you focused on what’s what’s what can you not do without. And that’s the your substitute for something.
So let’s, let’s get into the story I was in, talk about
Really, this is you know, Deuteronomy 30. And a setting of this is the right that Israel, Moses has led Israel for 40 years, the right on the there on the Jordan River, and they’re getting ready to pass over into the promised land, both This is about to die, this is his final. This is his review of what they need to do. They need to keep the law that they need to not worship other gods that they need to do, right. And so he says, For this commandment that I command you today, it’s not too hard for you. Neither is it far off. It’s not in heaven, that you say, who will ascend to heaven and bring us bring us and bring it to us, that we may hear and do it. Neither is it beyond the sea, they should say, who will go over the sea for us, and bring it to us that we may hear into it. But the word is being read near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it. See, I have set before you today, life in good death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God by walking in his ways. And by keeping His commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live. I’m skipping a couple of verses. But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you shall surely perish. One of the things that about as I studied Western seminary, just like Dan is, he’s a year ahead of me. And so one of the things that kind of really came to light, this last mystery that I kind of you have those things you kind of know. But then you they really come into full bloom is the we think of the law as the you know, the bunch of what we consider the Bible, in the Bible, the law of Mosaic Law, as a bunch of really freaky rules and regulations and stuff that we shouldn’t do. But I never thought about it before is that it never it never talks about that. That’s how you get to heaven. It never says you do these things. This is like the heaven. The whole point of the law was so that people could dwell in God’s presence. Because that’s what God wanted more than anything. If you look at when Adam and Eve, they fell, they sinned. And they were cast out of the garden garden, God mourned, that he couldn’t spend time with him. And when he built the really, the rest of the story is about God begging away, for us to be in his presence, is that’s what he wanted more than anything. He built it. That’s what the garden represented. The garden was man, God, ruling the earth as partners.
In this in the garden,
that God tells me, I want to make you rulers with me.
We’re going to rule the earth and have dominion over at all. And so when it when we build the tabernacle was Moses builds the tabernacle, and the temple and all this, it’s all this garden imagery and stuff like that, to go back to that point. Because God wants us in that life, in the light in that in there, because that’s where he wants, he wants us in His presence. And so when you think about what it is to walk with Christ, it’s the head into the light, it’s the head into the garden, to be in God’s presence. Because that’s where your that’s where that’s where you grow spiritually. That’s why I’m saying spend 10 minutes today,
reading the Bible pray,
learning to hear God to hear and respond to God. Because that’s where the life is.
That’s where the health is. Because otherwise you’re just stumbling in the dark. Trying to figure it out. Now, we all have struggles, we all have stuff, we all I have a chemical imbalance in my brain that are depression.
It’s they’re agitated and depressants, there’s nothing wrong with that a
lot of times guys, we have problems with
well, saying I’m depressed. Well, it is what it is. We wouldn’t think about if I was born without a leg. But it is what it is. We have fallen bodies were there. It says never be ashamed of admitting when you have a problem with something no matter what it is. But headphones to light into the weather’s life. You always gaining altitude losing altitude spiritually.
In one way or the other, there’s no just hanging out.
So as you you have a choice to make every day. With my life or death, wider doctors were about where am I headed today? What am I going to do to move towards one or the other, because you’re choosing one or the other every day and with every action. And I was telling them with the drinking stuff like that. You know, we tell ourselves so many lies about when we want to just do what we want to do you know what I’m talking about, we just we can just I can justify anything. I want to do it so I was just saying that because I have some anxiety stuff too, that I discovered through this all this stuff. And you know, come in here tonight and I was you know getting ready I ran by the House Speaker my iPad and some stuff like that. And I was like
little you look nervous about tonight.
Beer would just take that edge right off.
The I did not. But you know we see tell their lives is it’s Oh, that would just make it better. You start thinking that way.
That’s where the it’s not healthy.
That’s where I may have to cut back. I may take 90 days off
from drinking alcohol, or whatever.
To get lift at Chicago to talk to somebody but I think I think I’m gonna take a break
from alcohol for 90 days just to make sure I don’t have a problem.
That’s, that’s real. That’s like mature thinking. They’re saying no, I don’t have a problem and then stick until it’s too late. And you’ve missed a lot of life. Because a lot of damage. Because your own fascination with death or darkness. That’s not where you want to be. You want to be in the light.
Everything’s better there.
And you want life.
Jesus said again, that you might have life and have it abundantly. That’s where you want to be. You want that full life, that abundant life you want that joy and peace that comes with living in God’s presence of walking with Him in the light,
because that’s where
that’s where you’re meant to be. That’s where we were created to be in the light not in the darkness. We are never supposed to experience death. So let’s pursue that over anything else of our own self comfort,