Joyce Meyer - You Can Begin Again
Father, I pray for all these mighty men of God, that's the way you see them, and that's the way they need to see themselves. And I pray Lord that you would help them to overcome any addictions, help them to forgive people they need to forgive, and help them to forgive themselves. Some of them perhaps have physical problems, they don't feel well from the lifestyle that they lived, so I ask you to restore their health. Give them a clear mind and a strong body and help them know what they want to do in life and give them the direction to be able to do it. And I pray over them right now, that they will never give up, they will never quit and they will never give up, but they will inherit the future that you have planned for them in Jesus name, amen.
Well, I can actually say that the men's home is one of my favorite ministries here at the Dream Center because I see so much really good fruit come out of it. And you know, you might look at somebody like me, although I'm sure you've heard my testimony and different things and you might be tempted to think, "Well, how could she possibly relate to us and what we're going through"? But I can because pain is pain, no matter where you get it from.
And emotional pain, I think, is actually worse than physical pain. Nobody likes to be sick and hurt somewhere in your body but to hurt emotionally, to feel like you failed, to feel like nobody loves you, to feel like you've ruined every opportunity you could ever have in life, to have somebody leave you that should have loved you or whatever the case might be, that's very painful. And you probably know my story but just a real quick synopsis.
I was sexually abused by my father for lots and lots of years and that would have been unpleasant enough, but my mother knew what was happening and she didn't do anything about it, out of fear. And so I was abused by him and abandoned by her kind of all at the same time. And I remember my father always telling me that I would never amount to anything. And so I love proving the naysayers wrong and you need to have that same attitude in your life. I'm sure that people told you you're useless and you're never going to amount to anything and if but people haven't, I'm quite sure the devil has, but you can prove 'em wrong. And we gave all of you this book, "You can begin again".
I want you to take the time to read it, but one thing you've gotta do if you want to have a new beginning is you've gotta let go of your past. You've gotta get past your past. And if you believe the Bible that's not that hard to do, because "He forgets our sins", the Bible says, "And he removes them as far as the east is from the west". And the really good part, "He remembers them no more". So I have to remind myself sometimes that I need to forget what God's forgotten.
See, if God can forget all the wrong things that you did, then you can forget 'em too. I mean, yes, you want to learn from your mistakes, but you don't have to keep dragging them around with you because of many scriptures, but one in particular, 2 Corinthians 5:17, "If any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: old things pass away and all things become brand-new". And so I want to encourage you today, if you've sinned, somebody has sinned against you or hurt you, whichever the case might be, you have to let that go.
Forgiveness after salvation, forgiveness, receiving it and giving it to those that have hurt you, is probably the single most important thing that you need to do in order to get well. I hated my dad for a lot of years and I was trying to be a Christian at the same time and I'll tell you: it just doesn't work. The Bible actually says if we don't forgive others, then God can't forgive us. And so one of the things that really helped me, was when God taught me that hurting people hurt people.
So if you hurt somebody it was because you were hurting and if somebody hurt you, it was because they were hurting. And I don't know all of your stories, I wish that I had time to listen to every single one of them, but I know that you made mistakes. I think that's probably pretty simple to say, or you made some bad choices in life, and we always get in trouble by making bad choices, but we always get out of trouble by making good choices. But you didn't get in trouble making one bad choice, and you won't get out of trouble by making one good choice.
And the thing that I really want to encourage you is to realize that your walk with God is a journey, it's not an instantaneous overnight success thing. I remember a girl who came up to the altar after one of my meetings and she put her hands on her hips and had this very disgusted look on her face and said, "I want my money back". I said, "What are you talkin' about"? She said, "I've given offerings into this", and she said, "nothing has changed in my life. I've been doing what you said for three weeks and nothing has changed".
And it was all I could do not to just laugh at her because that's what people think. They think that they can give the devil 50 years and then give God three weeks and he should turn it all around in that length of time. So if you want to get well, which I'm assuming you do, or you would have never come into this program, if you want to get well then you have to be in this for the long haul. And you have to realize that it's not all going to be easy.
Joyce Meyer: Well, I know there's a lot of really good programs down here, things for kids and all kinds of different things that we're doing. We're trying to help anybody in the neighborhood that needs help, but why do you think the men's home in particular is so effective?
Pastor Tony: I think for us, in a community such as ours, this urban environment, giving men back to their families is huge. The absence of fathers, the absence of men really being a part of their kids' lives, it's of epidemic proportions in the inner city. And so our program gives us the opportunity to give men back to their families better than they came.
Joyce Meyer: Well Tony this is the 20th anniversary year for the St. Louis Dream Center being here. And I remember the first Sunday, I stood in the pulpit, turned to the north, south, east and the west and declared: "We're here to stay". And we've had some, I just didn't want to be another, "We promise we want to help you", and do it until it got tough and then take off. And we've had our challenges. There have been many times when it would have been easy to have just said, "You know, we don't really need to do this, we're not gonna do this anymore". But I really feel that it's important for people to reach out to the needy people and so I'm very proud of the Dream Center. It's kind of like my baby. So, what do you see for the future here?
Pastor Tony: Well, I see doing more of the same, and getting better. I see us helping more men, helping more kids, I see through the programming that we put on that we can actually change the landscape of this community over the next five to ten years. As we help children find out who they are, come back in the community and help change other kids lives, just the way theirs has changed. That's my story, when I walked into this church, I was broken and this church and what the partners and you've done in my life, not only changed my life, but changed my family's life. And so for the rest of my life I want to spend helping people find the freedom that God has given me through this place.
Joyce Meyer: How old were you the first time you came here?
Pastor Tony: I was thirty-five when I first walked in here.
Joyce Meyer: And you were a mess at 35?
Pastor Tony: I was a mess at 35. Is there a word worse than mess? 'cause I think I was worse than that.
Joyce Meyer: Big mess.
Pastor Tony: Big mess, I was a big mess at 35.
Joyce Meyer: And here you are now pastoring the church and I won't ask you how old you are now.
Pastor Tony: Okay, cool.
Joyce Meyer: But if the church has been here... Well never mind I won't ask, we won't go there. Well, we appreciate you and all work you do down here, you and your wife and just all the volunteers and the people it takes to keep it going and I think that helping people... You know, people ask me all the time, "Well, what's your vision"? Because I'm doing, I'm really living my dream, the things that God put in my heart 40 some-odd years ago, I'm getting to do them now. But really, I just want to help people and it doesn't really make me too much difference how I do it, you know, I just wanna help 'em. And I think as long as we wanna help people, God's always gonna take care of everything that we need to be able to do that.
Pastor Tony: I believe that.
I wanna tell you a story today. I have a younger brother... well, I had, he's no longer alive. He's nine years younger than me, and I think this really represents the power of choice. We both grew up in the same house, so my brother joined the marines when he was 17. My parents signed for him to go into the marines and one of his sergeants got him started on drugs over there, they were at the jungles in Vietnam. And anyway, long story short, he never was able to get off of the drugs. Now, he could have obviously, but he didn't, and he would disappear for years at a time. He'd go off and do who-knows-what whatever and then he'd get to a low point in life and call and ask for help.
So at one point, he called and asked us if he could come back home and if we would help him get his life straightened out. So, he came back and for about four years, he lived either with us in our house or in a little apartment that was over a garage that we had and he was doing pretty good. As long as somebody told him, every day, what to do, he was doing pretty good. And I really want you to get that part because in here somebody's telling you every day, what to do. And that's helping you form habits that you will need to continue when you get out on your own.
Sooner or later, everybody has to face the devil for themselves. We can't always have somebody else doing our praying and doing our deciding and always holding our hand and walking us through all the tough spots in life. We want to give you all the help that we can possibly give you, and we'll always be here to help you, but eventually, you will have to stand on your own two feet and you will have to face temptation and you will have to be the one to say, "No", to it, yourself if you ever wanna really have a victory.
And so, my brother did good for a while. After four years with us, we felt like it was time for him to get out on his own. So, we helped him get an apartment, helped him get furniture for the apartment, so everything was provided for him to have a great life. My brother was good looking, he had a great personality, he was a lot of fun. He just had every opportunity that you could have. And I hope that we are affording you opportunities here to make something out of yourself, but that's the part that we can't do for you. Eventually, you'll have to do that yourself. And I'll be honest with you, God won't do it all for you, he could, but he won't, because he expects you to participate in the recovery of your life.
So, my brother moved into this apartment, he met a girl, they wanted to get married. So, they were working toward that and then he just started falling apart again. He started going back to all of his own ways. Long story short, he finally left town again was gone for another eight, nine years and he always lived with other women so he was living with a woman out in Arizona. And the thing I want you to realize is that people like my brother was, they always want somebody else to do it for them. And I hope and pray that that's not the way you are, but I just want it to be said in case anybody is tempted to feel sorry for yourself that nobody is doing enough for you. I can tell you that nobody did anything for me, except God. And you really don't need anybody to do anything for you, but him, if you really want to see your life recovered.
So, the end of a sad, sad story is my brother ended up committing suicide and he hung himself in an abandoned building. And I look at our two lives, and to me, they are a very clear example of the result of choices. He made a choice to go with what he felt like and I made a choice, by the grace of God, but nonetheless, we still are the ones that have to choose, I made a choice to stick out through the hard times and to go with God. The Bible says, "I set before you life and death, blessing and cursing, choose life that you and your descendants may live".
So, you may make, I don't know, a thousand choices everyday and that might sound exaggerated but you make a choice about what to eat and what to wear and when to get up and what kind of attitude to have, and how you are gonna treat the people around you and whether or not you're gonna be easily offended or if you're gonna to be lazy or work hard. And I am just promising you that if you will make right choices, no matter how hard it is, Galatians 6:9 says, "Be not weary in well-doing for in due season, you shall reap if you faint not". And that "Faint" means to quit and give up.
And I can tell you I wanted to go give up thousands and thousands and thousands of times, and I would sometimes for a day or two, but then I would get back up and try again and try again. And so if you consistently make right choices day after day, and when you fall down and you make mistakes, which you will, then you get back up and you go at it again, you will eventually get to where you want to be. I'm not gonna tell you it's gonna be easy, I don't know what your backgrounds are, I don't know easy it will be to get employment when you leave here, but I'm sure we'll do all we can to help you and I know that God can definitely help you and give you favor and get you what you need.
Christian: I came in 2018, it's been about two years that I've gone through the program, and it is definitely one of the hardest but one of the most rewarding experiences I've ever experienced in my entire life. Created in me an intense discipline, a very structured program, something that I needed because before this I lived a very reckless and Godless life, and so I found myself coming into something that, you know, that I wasn't necessarily prepared for, but the Lord helped me and gave me strength to rise up to the occasion. So, yeah, this has been very hard, but very rewarding and has created in me like a discipline that I now carry with me every day.
Joyce Meyer: You know when you say that it's hard but rewarding I can't help but think that anything worth having, normally is hard. I know the recovery that I went through from being abused in my childhood was very hard because you have to face a lot of hard truth about yourself when you begin to go into recovery, it can't just be what everybody else did to me, but my side of it too and it's challenging to do that.
Aaron: I had a pretty decent childhood, but I had experienced some traumatic experiences around the age between 16 and 18, and from that point on, I really was just lost. I lost my identity, I was confused about who I was, and I really didn't want to live and I lost any determination to do anything. And I started smoking marijuana, drinking and just fell apart and then went from one hard drug to the next.
Christian: So, the community that I was raised in was very hard community, a lot of hopelessness and despair and there is a lot of drinking...
Joyce Meyer: Yeah, I've heard that.
Christian: Use of drugs, alcohol and just a very hopeless community and it didn't take long for me. I was a young man when I first experienced drinking myself, and from day one, it completely took over my life, it was the only thing that I could think about, was just getting alcohol into my system and for many years, that was the only thing that I looked forward to.
Whitney: You know, my dad died when I was like 15 years old and I guess I could say I was using it as a coping mechanism, then it became a lifestyle. So then I felt I had to depend upon everything that I had, you know, everything I knew was lost ya know, and I was depending on a drug. Like he said, you just feel hopeless, you know, and it got to the point where I was homeless and I reached out and God answered, ya know.
Joyce Meyer: Do you know that at one time in my life I was homeless?
Joyce Meyer: It's pretty amazing, I'd been in the hospital and had a baby and my husband had left me and so when I came out of the hospital, I literally, did not know where I was gonna go. We had to find a rather distant relative that was willing to take us in. So, it amazes me when I think that at one time in my life I was that low and what God has done in my life now. And you said something interesting you said at first, it was a coping mechanism, to deal with your pain, but then it became an addiction in your life. And I think that's exactly how a lot of people get in, they're hurting and to do something about that, right now, pain, they'll do anything to alleviate it, anything from eating disorders to drugs and alcohol, or overspending or gambling or whatever seems to get their mind off of their pain, but then the devil is smart enough to use that to draw you then into a lifestyle of that same addiction.
Aaron: Started my program, I was here for about 2 years. God blessed me with favor, he showed me who he was and who I really am and he really helped me through the program. And I graduated, got married, we have three kids, moved down to Kentucky.
Joyce Meyer: Wow, what are you doing in Kentucky?
Aaron: I work at a distribution facility for a pretty big clothing company and I'm a music director at the church.
Joyce Meyer: Awesome.
Aaron: God has blessed us.
Joyce Meyer: We're so glad to hear that you're doing so well, that always means a lot to me if people don't just come to the program, but they actually make it in real life. The promises of God are for everybody, they're not just for one person, they're for everybody and it says, "Whosoever will..." And so like you said, it was hard, but you were willing to do that, and so now you're getting on the other side of it and then God can use you to bring other people into recovery and wholeness also, that's the good thing about it.
I know what it's like to hurt, I know what it's like to be in trouble. My husband's father died when he was 16, of alcoholism. And so, Dave too, grew up in a family with eight children and they didn't have very much and he's been working since he was a young, young boy and he didn't, he didn't have a dad, his dad never had anything to do with him. You see, it's not good when somebody's raised like that and it does put you at a little bit of a disadvantage but no matter what kind of disadvantages you have had in life, it's the decisions that you make, c'mon.
No matter what kind of disadvantages you've had in life: your parents gave you away, you were born on the wrong side of the tracks, you were abused, whatever the case might be, it's up to you to not feel sorry for yourself, and to take God at his word, and not just read it and read books about it and hear sermons about it, but to do it. You have to do it, if you don't do it, to be a hearer of the word and not a doer, is deception. You're deceiving yourself if you think that you're becoming spiritual just by underlining scriptures in your Bible. So, you can do it with God's help, I believe the scriptures. "We are more than conquerors through Christ who loves us. I can do all things through Christ who lives in me. If the same power that raised Christ from the dead dwells in me, it shall quicken my mortal body".
See, you need to realize that as a believer, God lives in you. Now, that's pretty amazing when you think about that. Every single one of you, I want you to get that today, God lives in you. You're not just an ordinary person, you're natural but God adds the super. So, we become supernatural and that means that we can do things that maybe other people would deem impossible.
You know, Joseph in the Bible got a rough start in life, his father favored him, God gave him a dream, but he had a bunch of brothers that were jealous of him. And the Bible says that, "They hated Joseph and they hated him all the more but God gave him favor everywhere that he went".
So, just in closing, let me say that it doesn't really matter who doesn't like you, who wasn't there for you, who has disappointed you, rejected you, abandoned you, God is on your side, and that's the only thing that really makes any difference. And so, God can do things through you that will more than make up for any disadvantages that you've had in life. And he can open doors for you, give you favor and put you in places that will absolutely amaze you. How many of you think I'm right? You're gonna do it, all right. Say, we're gonna do it!