Elizabeth Moll Stalcup

November 25, 2008


A simple way to connect with God

March 29, 2016


The Story Behind the Train Passengers Singing Over the Rainbow!

August 29, 2015

Source: The Story Behind the Train Passengers Singing Over the Rainbow!

August 3, 2015


“O Lord, please send someone else to do it.”     Moses, Exodus 4:13 (NIV)

If you feel weak, limited, ordinary, you are the best material through which God can work.

Henry T. Blackaby and Claude V. King, Experiencing God

The last conversation I’d had with my neighbor, Frank, had been a disaster. So when the Lord told me to tell him how to fix his car, I couldn’t imagine a worse idea.

I was in my backyard, lugging a load of branches to the compost pile, when I saw Frank standing in his driveway, two houses away, leaning over the open hood of his Audi sedan. His fists gripped the edge of the car, his shoulders were hunched forward as he stared intently at the engine.

Go tell him it’s the fuse to his fuel pump. I shook my head. Where had that thought come from? Was it God? Or was I making it up? I couldn’t imagine telling Frank how to fix his car.

I dumped the load of brush on the compost pile and trudged, deep in thought, back to my front yard where Sam was cutting down an overgrown Leyland cypress.

As I watched my husband whack at the cypress, I thought back to my last conversation with Frank.

It had been six months ago, after a winter storm, Northern Virginia-style–four inches of snow, followed by rain, then freezing rain and more snow. The next morning, one look at our slick snow-filled driveway was enough to make my husband and me break out our sleds and cross-country skis, heat up the hot chocolate, and call our bosses.

But not Frank. He was determined to make it to work.

Our picturesque little street, which winds down and around a steep hill, is treacherous in winter. From our front yard, we have a perfect view of the steepest part of the hill, and our neighbors do their best to entertain us on snowy days. Their humorous attempts to escape from the snowbound neighborhood provide a welcome diversion while we shovel the driveway.

The hill is a formidable obstacle–even for macho men in four-wheel drive vehicles. Twisting and sputtering, cars slither their way up the hill, wheels spinning. Frank was usually one of the first to try, even though he had one of the least suitable vehicles–a long 12-passenger van.

I was skiing home when I saw him. His van was speeding along the flat section of the road, then turned to climb the hill. The van continued at top speed for about 20 feet, then slowed to a crawl, wheels spinning. Yielding to gravity, Frank carefully backed the van down the track his vehicle had made in the snow for another attempt. He repeated this routine at least ten times while I stood watching from a safe distance. Occasionally he advanced a few feet. This only tempted him to try again.

His final attempt began like the others. This time when the van stopped moving forward, it twisted and slid back against the curb, coming to rest against a huge mound of snow halfway up the hill. Now he was in a fix. The van was wedged with one of the back tires against the curb in snow so deep I could barely see the top of the van. And right on the steepest part of the hill.

Several neighbors who had paused from digging out their driveways to watch Frank’s dogged efforts grabbed their snow shovels and headed toward the van to help him dig it out.

This is ridiculous, I thought. Why can’t Frank wait until the street is plowed? Imagine! Trying to drive a van out! I didn’t know at the time that Frank drove a vanpool. Other people were depending on him to get them to work. No wonder he was trying so hard to get out of the neighborhood.

Then I made a terrible mistake. As I skied past the trapped vehicle, my thoughts rolled off of my tongue and out of my mouth.

My thoughtless comments upset Frank and, as I skied into my driveway, I wondered, When would I learn to keep my mouth shut?

Even though I’d gone back later that day to apologize, I still couldn’t imagine offering him more advice. As I carried another load back to the compost pile, I thought, I’ve already made a fool of myself once with Frank. I’d better keep quiet this time!

But I couldn’t escape the nagging voice. Tell Frank that the fuse is blown. Was God speaking to me or was I making this up? I was beginning to squirm. The turmoil in my heart grew. Finally, I turned from the compost pile and walked hesitantly across the lawn.

Frank was fiddling with something under the hood.

“Hey, Frank,” I said, trying to sound lighthearted and feeling idiotic, “having trouble with your car?”

He took a deep breath and turned to look at me. A smile froze on his face.   “Yes,” he said slowly, in an icy tone of voice, “it won’t start.”

I took a deep breath. “Have you checked the fuse for your fuel pump?”

“Yes, I have,” he said even more slowly, enunciating each word. “It’s not the fuse.”

Oh, great, I thought, now what, Lord?

“See,” he said, flipping the cover of the fuse box in my direction.

I looked down, bewildered. The diagram drawn on the inside of the fuse box lid looked complicated. My eye caught the phrase “fuel-pump.” It was listed in two places. I took another deep breath, “Did you know there are two fuses for the fuel pump?” I asked.

Frank was removing the distributor cap. “No, I didn’t,” he replied, so sharply that I jumped.

I turned and bolted.

About halfway across the lawn, I called back over my shoulder, “I hope you get it fixed. See you later!”

I ran back to my husband. While I was gone, he had reduced the cypress to a stump. As I told him about my conversation with Frank, tears began to roll down my cheeks. “Why do I always think I’m hearing from God, when I’m not?” I asked him.

He put a reassuring arm around my shoulders and hugged me. “You do hear from God a lot. You made a mistake this time. Let go of it, Betsy,” he said laughing. “It’s okay. You were only trying to help.”

I tried to put the conversation with Frank out of my mind and focus on helping my husband pry the stump out of the ground. But I felt wretched. Once again I had managed to irritate Frank.

About 20 minutes later I saw Frank drive off in the Audi, but it was a few days before I knew what had happened.

I was working in the garden when Frank’s wife, Jean, stopped by. I couldn’t resist asking her about the car.

“Oh, it was the fuse,” Jean, told me. “After you left, Frank replaced the fuse to the fuel pump and the car started.”

“Really?” I asked, stunned. My heart leaped. God had been speaking to me!

“It rattled him,” she continued. “He asked me how you knew it was the fuse.”

“What did you tell him?” I asked.

“I told him that I thought you were surrounded by angels,” Jean replied.

Angels!  I had prayed for Jean several times in the past year when she was sick. Each time God had answered those prayers. I could see that Jean’s heart was opening to God.

But what was happening with Frank? What was God doing the day he told me to tell Frank how to fix his car? And did he need to humiliate me to do it?

Looking back, I see that I needed to be reconciled to Frank. I was so embarrassed by the unkind remarks I made the day Frank’s van was stuck in the snow, that I kept my distance. I was content to wave from my driveway, never letting our relationship fully heal. But God was not content. He was not willing to let my shame over past mistakes get in the way of being reconciled to my neighbor. Talking to Frank about the fuse forced me to face my discomfort and this time my words brought help to a frustrating situation.

We all have people that we avoid. The neighbor who borrowed our rake and never returned it. The teacher who thought our kid was a brat. The former friend who made an insensitive jab. When we sin, or someone sins against us, we often avoid that person rather than taking our shame and hurt to Jesus and letting Him forgive us and cleanse the wound so we can be reconciled.* * * *

Who are you avoiding?

Dear Lord,

That was so embarrassing. Sometimes I just want to hide. I don’t want to admit, even to myself, that I did something wrong. Lord, forgive me! Show me how to be reconciled to those I have wronged as well as those who have wronged me. Help me to forgive myself when I do stupid things. Help me to see that the only way past these feelings of shame is to face what I did and receive your forgiveness. Move me past the places where I get stuck and take away my shame.

In Jesus’ name,


The Likely Cause of Addiction Has Been Discovered, and It Is Not What You Think

January 22, 2015

My friend Chaney sent this to me. Low and behold, this is what we teach in Restarting, that addiction is an attachment where we attach to drugs, food, shopping, whatever! instead of attaching to people and God. Kinda sad. But I am happy this article by Johann Hari from Tuesday’s Huffington Post is on the right track. Enjoy!
It is now one hundred years since drugs were first banned — and all through this long century of waging war on drugs, we have been told a story about addiction by our teachers and by our governments. This story is so deeply ingrained in our minds that we take it for granted. It seems obvious. It seems manifestly true. Until I set off three and a half years ago on a 30,000-mile journey for my new book, Chasing The Scream: The First And Last Days of the War on Drugs, to figure out what is really driving the drug war, I believed it too. But what I learned on the road is that almost everything we have been told about addiction is wrong — and there is a very different story waiting for us, if only we are ready to hear it.

If we truly absorb this new story, we will have to change a lot more than the drug war. We will have to change ourselves.

I learned it from an extraordinary mixture of people I met on my travels. From the surviving friends of Billie Holiday, who helped me to learn how the founder of the war on drugs stalked and helped to kill her. From a Jewish doctor who was smuggled out of the Budapest ghetto as a baby, only to unlock the secrets of addiction as a grown man. From a transsexual crack dealer in Brooklyn who was conceived when his mother, a crack-addict, was raped by his father, an NYPD officer. From a man who was kept at the bottom of a well for two years by a torturing dictatorship, only to emerge to be elected President of Uruguay and to begin the last days of the war on drugs.

I had a quite personal reason to set out for these answers. One of my earliest memories as a kid is trying to wake up one of my relatives, and not being able to. Ever since then, I have been turning over the essential mystery of addiction in my mind — what causes some people to become fixated on a drug or a behavior until they can’t stop? How do we help those people to come back to us? As I got older, another of my close relatives developed a cocaine addiction, and I fell into a relationship with a heroin addict. I guess addiction felt like home to me.

If you had asked me what causes drug addiction at the start, I would have looked at you as if you were an idiot, and said: “Drugs. Duh.” It’s not difficult to grasp. I thought I had seen it in my own life. We can all explain it. Imagine if you and I and the next twenty people to pass us on the street take a really potent drug for twenty days. There are strong chemical hooks in these drugs, so if we stopped on day twenty-one, our bodies would need the chemical. We would have a ferocious craving. We would be addicted. That’s what addiction means.

One of the ways this theory was first established is through rat experiments — ones that were injected into the American psyche in the 1980s, in a famous advert by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. You may remember it. The experiment is simple. Put a rat in a cage, alone, with two water bottles. One is just water. The other is water laced with heroin or cocaine. Almost every time you run this experiment, the rat will become obsessed with the drugged water, and keep coming back for more and more, until it kills itself.

The advert explains: “Only one drug is so addictive, nine out of ten laboratory rats will use it. And use it. And use it. Until dead. It’s called cocaine. And it can do the same thing to you.”

But in the 1970s, a professor of Psychology in Vancouver called Bruce Alexander noticed something odd about this experiment. The rat is put in the cage all alone. It has nothing to do but take the drugs. What would happen, he wondered, if we tried this differently? So Professor Alexander built Rat Park. It is a lush cage where the rats would have colored balls and the best rat-food and tunnels to scamper down and plenty of friends: everything a rat about town could want. What, Alexander wanted to know, will happen then?

In Rat Park, all the rats obviously tried both water bottles, because they didn’t know what was in them. But what happened next was startling.

The rats with good lives didn’t like the drugged water. They mostly shunned it, consuming less than a quarter of the drugs the isolated rats used. None of them died. While all the rats who were alone and unhappy became heavy users, none of the rats who had a happy environment did.

At first, I thought this was merely a quirk of rats, until I discovered that there was — at the same time as the Rat Park experiment — a helpful human equivalent taking place. It was called the Vietnam War. Time magazine reported using heroin was “as common as chewing gum” among U.S. soldiers, and there is solid evidence to back this up: some 20 percent of U.S. soldiers had become addicted to heroin there, according to a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry. Many people were understandably terrified; they believed a huge number of addicts were about the head home when the war ended.

But in fact some 95 percent of the addicted soldiers — according to the same study — simply stopped. Very few had rehab. They shifted from a terrifying cage back to a pleasant one, so didn’t want the drug any more.

Professor Alexander argues this discovery is a profound challenge both to the right-wing view that addiction is a moral failing caused by too much hedonistic partying, and the liberal view that addiction is a disease taking place in a chemically hijacked brain. In fact, he argues, addiction is an adaptation. It’s not you. It’s your cage.

After the first phase of Rat Park, Professor Alexander then took this test further. He reran the early experiments, where the rats were left alone, and became compulsive users of the drug. He let them use for fifty-seven days — if anything can hook you, it’s that. Then he took them out of isolation, and placed them in Rat Park. He wanted to know, if you fall into that state of addiction, is your brain hijacked, so you can’t recover? Do the drugs take you over? What happened is — again — striking. The rats seemed to have a few twitches of withdrawal, but they soon stopped their heavy use, and went back to having a normal life. The good cage saved them. (The full references to all the studies I am discussing are in the book.)

When I first learned about this, I was puzzled. How can this be? This new theory is such a radical assault on what we have been told that it felt like it could not be true. But the more scientists I interviewed, and the more I looked at their studies, the more I discovered things that don’t seem to make sense — unless you take account of this new approach.

Here’s one example of an experiment that is happening all around you, and may well happen to you one day. If you get run over today and you break your hip, you will probably be given diamorphine, the medical name for heroin. In the hospital around you, there will be plenty of people also given heroin for long periods, for pain relief. The heroin you will get from the doctor will have a much higher purity and potency than the heroin being used by street-addicts, who have to buy from criminals who adulterate it. So if the old theory of addiction is right — it’s the drugs that cause it; they make your body need them — then it’s obvious what should happen. Loads of people should leave the hospital and try to score smack on the streets to meet their habit.

But here’s the strange thing: It virtually never happens. As the Canadian doctor Gabor Mate was the first to explain to me, medical users just stop, despite months of use. The same drug, used for the same length of time, turns street-users into desperate addicts and leaves medical patients unaffected.

If you still believe — as I used to — that addiction is caused by chemical hooks, this makes no sense. But if you believe Bruce Alexander’s theory, the picture falls into place. The street-addict is like the rats in the first cage, isolated, alone, with only one source of solace to turn to. The medical patient is like the rats in the second cage. She is going home to a life where she is surrounded by the people she loves. The drug is the same, but the environment is different.

This gives us an insight that goes much deeper than the need to understand addicts. Professor Peter Cohen argues that human beings have a deep need to bond and form connections. It’s how we get our satisfaction. If we can’t connect with each other, we will connect with anything we can find — the whirr of a roulette wheel or the prick of a syringe. He says we should stop talking about ‘addiction’ altogether, and instead call it ‘bonding.’ A heroin addict has bonded with heroin because she couldn’t bond as fully with anything else.

So the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human connection.

When I learned all this, I found it slowly persuading me, but I still couldn’t shake off a nagging doubt. Are these scientists saying chemical hooks make no difference? It was explained to me — you can become addicted to gambling, and nobody thinks you inject a pack of cards into your veins. You can have all the addiction, and none of the chemical hooks. I went to a Gamblers’ Anonymous meeting in Las Vegas (with the permission of everyone present, who knew I was there to observe) and they were as plainly addicted as the cocaine and heroin addicts I have known in my life. Yet there are no chemical hooks on a craps table.

But still, surely, I asked, there is some role for the chemicals? It turns out there is an experiment which gives us the answer to this in quite precise terms, which I learned about in Richard DeGrandpre’s book The Cult of Pharmacology.

Everyone agrees cigarette smoking is one of the most addictive processes around. The chemical hooks in tobacco come from a drug inside it called nicotine. So when nicotine patches were developed in the early 1990s, there was a huge surge of optimism — cigarette smokers could get all of their chemical hooks, without the other filthy (and deadly) effects of cigarette smoking. They would be freed.

But the Office of the Surgeon General has found that just 17.7 percent of cigarette smokers are able to stop using nicotine patches. That’s not nothing. If the chemicals drive 17.7 percent of addiction, as this shows, that’s still millions of lives ruined globally. But what it reveals again is that the story we have been taught about The Cause of Addiction lying with chemical hooks is, in fact, real, but only a minor part of a much bigger picture.

This has huge implications for the one-hundred-year-old war on drugs. This massive war — which, as I saw, kills people from the malls of Mexico to the streets of Liverpool — is based on the claim that we need to physically eradicate a whole array of chemicals because they hijack people’s brains and cause addiction. But if drugs aren’t the driver of addiction — if, in fact, it is disconnection that drives addiction — then this makes no sense.

Ironically, the war on drugs actually increases all those larger drivers of addiction. For example, I went to a prison in Arizona — ‘Tent City’ — where inmates are detained in tiny stone isolation cages (‘The Hole’) for weeks and weeks on end to punish them for drug use. It is as close to a human recreation of the cages that guaranteed deadly addiction in rats as I can imagine. And when those prisoners get out, they will be unemployable because of their criminal record — guaranteeing they with be cut off ever more. I watched this playing out in the human stories I met across the world.

There is an alternative. You can build a system that is designed to help drug addicts to reconnect with the world — and so leave behind their addictions.

This isn’t theoretical. It is happening. I have seen it. Nearly fifteen years ago, Portugal had one of the worst drug problems in Europe, with 1 percent of the population addicted to heroin. They had tried a drug war, and the problem just kept getting worse. So they decided to do something radically different. They resolved to decriminalize all drugs, and transfer all the money they used to spend on arresting and jailing drug addicts, and spend it instead on reconnecting them — to their own feelings, and to the wider society. The most crucial step is to get them secure housing, and subsidized jobs so they have a purpose in life, and something to get out of bed for. I watched as they are helped, in warm and welcoming clinics, to learn how to reconnect with their feelings, after years of trauma and stunning them into silence with drugs.

One example I learned about was a group of addicts who were given a loan to set up a removals firm. Suddenly, they were a group, all bonded to each other, and to the society, and responsible for each other’s care.

The results of all this are now in. An independent study by the British Journal of Criminology found that since total decriminalization, addiction has fallen, and injecting drug use is down by 50 percent. I’ll repeat that: injecting drug use is down by 50 percent. Decriminalization has been such a manifest success that very few people in Portugal want to go back to the old system. The main campaigner against the decriminalization back in 2000 was Joao Figueira, the country’s top drug cop. He offered all the dire warnings that we would expect from the Daily Mail or Fox News. But when we sat together in Lisbon, he told me that everything he predicted had not come to pass — and he now hopes the whole world will follow Portugal’s example.

This isn’t only relevant to the addicts I love. It is relevant to all of us, because it forces us to think differently about ourselves. Human beings are bonding animals. We need to connect and love. The wisest sentence of the twentieth century was E.M. Forster’s — “only connect.” But we have created an environment and a culture that cut us off from connection, or offer only the parody of it offered by the Internet. The rise of addiction is a symptom of a deeper sickness in the way we live — constantly directing our gaze towards the next shiny object we should buy, rather than the human beings all around us.

The writer George Monbiot has called this “the age of loneliness.” We have created human societies where it is easier for people to become cut off from all human connections than ever before. Bruce Alexander — the creator of Rat Park — told me that for too long, we have talked exclusively about individual recovery from addiction. We need now to talk about social recovery — how we all recover, together, from the sickness of isolation that is sinking on us like a thick fog.

But this new evidence isn’t just a challenge to us politically. It doesn’t just force us to change our minds. It forces us to change our hearts.

Loving an addict is really hard. When I looked at the addicts I love, it was always tempting to follow the tough love advice doled out by reality shows like Intervention — tell the addict to shape up, or cut them off. Their message is that an addict who won’t stop should be shunned. It’s the logic of the drug war, imported into our private lives. But in fact, I learned, that will only deepen their addiction — and you may lose them altogether. I came home determined to tie the addicts in my life closer to me than ever — to let them know I love them unconditionally, whether they stop, or whether they can’t.

When I returned from my long journey, I looked at my ex-boyfriend, in withdrawal, trembling on my spare bed, and I thought about him differently. For a century now, we have been singing war songs about addicts. It occurred to me as I wiped his brow, we should have been singing love songs to them all along.

The full story of Johann Hari’s journey — told through the stories of the people he met — can be read in Chasing The Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs, published by Bloomsbury. The book has been praised by everyone from Elton John to Glenn Greenwald to Naomi Klein. You can buy it at all good bookstores and read more at http://www.chasingthescream.com.

Johann Hari will be talking about his book at 7pm at Politics and Prose in Washington DC on the 29th of January, at lunchtime at the 92nd Street Y in New York City on the 30th January, and in the evening at Red Emma’s in Baltimore on the 4th February.

The full references and sources for all the information cited in this article can be found in the book’s extensive end-notes.

David and Goliath

October 7, 2014

David and Goliath: I Samuel 17:1-37

1.In this passage it says “Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified. Have you ever felt that way?

2.How did David see Goliath?

3.How did David’s older brother see him? Have you ever had a family member tear you down? How did you respond?

4.How did David’s commanding officer see him? Have you ever had a commanding officer tear you down? How did you respond?

5.How did David respond when Saul questioned his ability?

David, Mighty Warrior

October 4, 2014

David Mighty Warrior

Today I am going to start posting a Bible study about David. Please answer the questions in the comment area and I will do my best to respond.
Bless you,

David Anointed as King: I Samuel 16:1-13
Read this passage aloud. This is our first introduction to David who would later become a mighty warrior and a king.
1. What does this passage tell us about him? Write an answer in the space provided, share it with your group. Report back to the large group.

2. How did David’s family see him?

3. How did God see David?

4. How do you think David felt before he was anointed king? After he was anointed king?

5. Have you ever felt like this?

Processing pain using the Immanuel approach

September 9, 2014

It is a simple exercise, you simply say, “Lord, help me to perceive you,” then when you see where he is, you say, “Lord, help me to perceive you more clearly.”

Then you quiet yourself and enjoy being with him. After all, Jesus is always with us, even if we do not believe in him, so the sense that we are alone is a matter of our perception, not reality. He is there. With me. With you. All the time.

The other night I was watching a DVD with my family when a memory flooded back—losing my new red bike to my brother. Before you conclude that my parents are heartless, let me explain. I was the second of five children and had received a new bike, a rarity, for my birthday. I eyed the shiny wheels and frame and my heart sang.

Then a few months (or was it years?) later my older sister got a new bike for her birthday, so all the bikes bumped down the peaking order: I got her old one, a used blue heavy thing with fat, slow tires and my bike went to my younger brother. I remember well the sting, the sense of outrage. It was, after all, my bike!

So I prayed silently, Lord help me to perceive you. All at once I saw Jesus in the garage with us kids, he was sad, too. He understood. Then I saw myself on the red bike, my bike, and was astonished to see my arms and legs akimbo. Was I that big? Was the bike so small? In the next scene, Jesus and I were racing down the hill that was our driveway, side by side shooting out on to the street then cutting right then left over to the dead end where we kids often rode. The dead end! I had forgotten that the side street did not go through when I was young, but there it was! We were laughing out loud, ear-spilting grins plastered on our faces.

Where there had been sadness, now there was only peace and joy. I laid back, resting my head against the back of the chair, as my body relaxed and the tension and pain flowed out of me. There is nothing like connecting with Jesus to restore the soul.

But what if, when we ask Jesus to help us perceive him, we feel shame or anger?
I’ve seen this over and over again in my office when I ask someone to picture Jesus standing in front of them and then next thing I know they are sobbing. “I feel so unworthy,” they say. Or, “I feel so angry! Where was he when I was being abused? I cried out to him and he did not rescue me!”

The answer is ironically to turn to the very one you are angry with, to tell Jesus just how you feel. Once you vent, then ask him for his point of view. Listen with your heart. Ask him to help you identify any barriers and ask him what he wants you to know. He is very good at uncovering the lies that block our relationship with him.

We were meant to live in joy. The kind of joy that comes when we know we are the apple of someone’s eye. Jesus’ eye! Feeling blocked? Confused? Angry? Check out ways to connect to him such as Theophostic Prayer Ministry or the Immanuel Apporach here: Theophostic.com, especially the recording of a live session, or read my article in Charisma (http://www.charismamag.com/site-archives/511-features/inner-healing/2412-hope-for-the-wounded-soul-) Or go to http://www.immanuelapproach.com/ for more on the Immanuel approach.