Empty Houses, Pt. 3 (Filling the Empty House)

Empty Houses, Pt. 3 (Filling the Empty House)

“When you are happy, so happy that you have no sense of needing [God], so happy that you are tempted to feel His claims upon you as an interruption, if you remember yourself and turn to Him with gratitude and praise, you will be–or so it feels–welcomed with open arms.

“But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence…

“…There are no lights in the windows. It might be an follow url questbridge biographical essay topic follow emerson essay on nature kamagra oral jelly benefits essay about crime in south africa https://shilohchristian.org/buy/ap-english-language-essay-types-ielts/54/ essay on computer technology in education essay for admission in college https://medpsychmd.com/nurse/cheap-generic-strattera/63/ edexcel history coursework word limit mark levin viagra cijena levitra u bih source site essay life challenges database design term paper source narrative essay on terrorism renewable energy essay people who write essays for you cialis athalia mla format outline research paper viagra alla menta https://eventorum.puc.edu/usarx/buy-cialis-in-singapore/82/ https://equalitymi.org/citrate/street-names-of-viagra/29/ nexium overdose infant https://businesswomanguide.org/capstone/research-papers-on-marketing-communications/22/ malcolm x term papers https://cpchawaii.edu/lptf/papers.php?rewriter=choose-topic-your-research-paper initial invention viagra cheap definition essay writer website for masters photo essay redneck texas empty house. Was it ever inhabited? It seemed so once.”

C.S. Lewis, from A Grief Observed, p.3

OK kids, lets review! In our first visit to the empty house, we told some ghost stories and learned that Satan is real, and that he loves darkness. We learned that the light of Christ is given to all of us and that this incredible gift will empower us to overcome Satan’s darkness.

On our second visit to the empty house, we talked about how what we think is what we become. We read Jesus’ parable of the empty house and learned that if we cast out evil but don’t fill our empty house with good stuff, the evil will come back even stronger. And we talked about how God wants to give his children (YOU!) good gifts.

So…in this third and final visit to the empty house, lets figure out how to fill our empty lives with the things that will allow us to forever banish our demons, and to fill our souls with joy and “…wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures.” (Doctrine and Covenants 89:19)


Ask and ye shall receive…

A couple thousand years ago, the apostle James wrote:

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God…

— James 1:5

However, modern wisdom says:

If any of you lack information, let him ask of Google!

So, I did just that…I asked Google for info on “Breaking Bad Habits”. Here’s MY countdown of top 5 ‘best’ ways (as suggested by Google) to break bad habits:


5- “Make a ‘habits jar’ and fine yourself for each offense–if you make a bad habit a little more painful, you might just ditch it for good.” Maybe it’ll work, maybe not. But there’s a bonus… after falling “off the wagon” every night for a week or two, you’ll have a few bucks saved up in your “habits jar” for a fresh bottle of booze!


4- “Go slow and make tiny changes–‘trick your inner cave-man’ by focusing on one habit and then make the smallest steps you can take.” Yeah, right…my inner caveman needs Bacardi to survive, he needs lots of it, and he needs it NOW!


3- “Spend a month thinking about your habit before taking action–list every reason you want to stop, record every time you catch yourself doing it, and so-on.” Hmmm…as if I’m not already thinking about it 24/7?


2- “Remind your future self about avoiding bad habits–set calendar reminders for yourself for your weakest moments.” Does this one even deserve a response??!


And my personal favorite…

1- “Place reminders of your goals all around your house.” Great idea if you want to meet your monthly sales quota, but not so great if you want to quit smoking! Again…the more you see it, the more you think it…and then the more you do it.

(Thanks to LifeHacker.com for all the laughs!)




More Google “Wisdom”: Replacing a bad habit with a good one

This “2-step program” seems perfect. Simple. Quick and easy. PAINLESS!! To the addict who is into instant gratification, it sounds amazing! There’s only one problem…it doesn’t work. For me, the 2-step program went something like this:

New Years Eve rolls around (again…) What is my resolution (again???) I’ll never take another drink of alcohol (again!!!)

Hmmm…the 2-step program says replace the bad habit with a good one. OK, I’ll start going to the gym instead of drinking.

$200 later, I’ve got my gym membership. Yeah, it feels good to exercise, but it seems a bit too much like work, and my brain is still cross-wired with that survival instinct that says:

ALCOHOL = SURVIVAL

I go to the gym every evening for a week or two and go to bed sober every night. And every day I get a little grumpier. One night, I finally give in and stop at the liquor store on the way home from the gym. My craving is so bad that I drink an entire pint of the strongest booze I can find.

Now I’m $200 poorer, and I feel even worse since I’ve failed at TWO new year’s resolutions…1) stop drinking and 2) get healthy by going to the gym.


Don’t get me wrong

Replacing bad habits with good ones is part of the formula for success. We’ve got to fill our empty houses with something, after all, or the demons just return. But swapping habits is not always good.

How often have you heard somebody say “I’d quit smoking, but when I don’t smoke, I gain weight”. Food is good for you…cigarettes are bad for you. Good trade, right? Not necessarily. You’ve just substituted one craving for another. Now you’ve re-wired the survival instinct from

SURVIVAL = TOBACCO
to
SURVIVAL = FOOD.

You still have not overcome your addiction, and most likely, your brain will soon say:

SURVIVAL = FOOD+TOBACCO.


Here’s another thought I found on Google…we’re getting closer!

Think about it. If you drink alcohol every day and eat unhealthy food, what will happen if you quit drinking? If you continue to eat candy bars, salted nuts, potato chips, burgers, and pizza, it won’t take long before you think “a beer would sure taste nice with this burger.”

If you’re addicted to consuming content on social media, you can’t “just” get rid of your social media apps on your phone. If you have a TV, you’ll simply binge watch Netflix instead. And before you know it, you’ll reinstall those apps with one click. Most of the time, you can pick up right where you left off. You don’t even have to sign in again.

Don’t go down that road. Instead, be committed to change. If you truly want to break your bad habits, go extreme on yourself.

Yes, I’m actually saying you should take it seriously. Why? Because your life is a serious matter. Remember this: If you want to break your bad habits, BREAK THEM ALL AT THE SAME TIME.

Go all in. Or don’t go at all.

Darius Foroux

Darius gave us a push in the right direction here, but according to Mrs. Egbert (my 10th grade English teacher) we need to confirm our thesis from primary sources…

…and what did the apostle James teach us about primary sources??

Need Wisdom? Ask GOD!

So let’s do that!


Abraham’s Test

I’m sure most of you are familiar with the Old Testament story of Abraham. Just in case you forgot, here’s the 15-second recap:

Abraham was a prophet of the Lord. He had a son named Isaac who he loved very much. God commanded Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. Abraham did not want to kill his son but was determined to serve the God. At the last minute, an angel stopped Abraham and told him that he had passed God’s test.

So… the sixty-four million dollar question is:

WHY did God command Abraham to kill his son?

Abraham had been God’s prophet for nearly a century. Surely God knew Abraham’s heart and didn’t need this extreme test to find out how strong he was.


Brigham Young University Professor Truman G. Madsen (1926–2009) wrote about a time when he was with President Hugh B. Brown of the First Presidency in Hebron, near the tomb of Abraham:

Truman G. Madsen

“I asked [President Brown], ‘Why … was Abraham commanded to go to Mount Moriah and offer his only hope of posterity?’

“It was clear that he had thought and prayed and wept over that question before. He finally said:
Abraham needed to learn something about Abraham’”

Five Classics by Truman G. Madsen [2001], 232

John Taylor spoke on several occasions about his private conversations with Joseph Smith on this topic. He says:

“I heard the Prophet Joseph say to the Twelve on one occasion: “You will have all kinds of trials to pass through. And it is as necessary for you to be tried as it was for Abraham and other men of God
… Joseph said that if God had known any other way whereby he could have touched Abraham’s feelings more acutely and more keenly he would have done so.

John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, 24:197,264

In my studies, I’ve run across comments from many gospel scholars and they all agree…

At some point, each of us will be required as Abraham to show our willingness to sacrifice what we love the most, not only as a test before God, but more importantly to teach us about ourselves.

Through my struggles with chronic pain and alcoholism, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve commented to my wife Julie: “I KNOW God wants me to learn a lesson from my suffering. I certainly wish I could figure out what I need to learn so that I can get past these trials and on to whatever God has in store for me.”

So, what has God been trying to teach me for the past 35 years?

Kyle needs to learn something about Kyle...”


A Sacrifice like unto Abraham

I LOVE music! Or more accurately, I love performing music. I started piano lessons before my 5th birthday and never looked back.

Julie (my wife) calls my keyboard rig “the other woman”.

In 1991, shortly after moving to Denver, I was talking to a drummer friend and said those four immortal words that will most significantly impact your personal, mental, spiritual, financial, and professional well being: “LETS START A BAND!

Early in my music career, lots of strange, tragic, and disturbing things happened. I lost band-mates to drug overdoses and fatal DUI accidents, and saw lives and marriages ruined by infidelity and addiction. One of my best friends (we’ll call him “Billy”) repeatedly stole money from the band to support his cocaine habit.

Within a few years, I established a reputation as one of Denver’s top variety-band keyboardists. With this, I was able to move out of the bars and into the weddings, corporate, and casuals circuit, which greatly improved my working conditions AND my income.

I was given amazing opportunities to perform at events that most musicians can only dream about. Concert appearances and corporate events at Red Rocks Amphitheater, Mile-high Stadium, and Coors Field. Playing for 65,000+ people at an Obama rally. Private parties for millionaires, billionaires, senators, congressmen and state governors. House band for the Denver Broncos team holiday parties. Million dollar weddings on top of 12,000 ft. mountains. At last count I’ve played well over 500 weddings and at least that many more corporate and political events.

Friends dropping out

During this period I heard a rumor that my old friend Billy had “found Jesus”, had cleaned up his cocaine habit, married a nice girl, and stopped playing ALL commercial gigs. The only place he played now was in the worship band at his church.

I was HIGHLY skeptical! However, Billy was only the first of several of my musician friends who “found Jesus” and basically dropped out of the industry. I always questioned their sincerity (and their sanity).

I couldn’t imagine giving up the career I loved for my religious beliefs, even though many years before, I’d made covenants in the presence of God, angels and witnesses.

And BTW, there is a temple covenant that says (I’m paraphrasing here…)

Go all in. Or don’t go at all.

Like Abraham, I still needed to learn something about ME…

We talked in depth in “Empty Houses, Pt. 2” about my long spiral into addiction, and in “The Labels That We Wear” I discussed my past decade of “forced sobriety”.

Throughout my journey to that point, ALL of my efforts were focused on breaking one habit…alcoholism. I think I instinctively knew what was required…and it was something I was not yet prepared to do. I needed what Alma and Paul referred to as “A Mighty Change of Heart”. After 30-something years, it finally came.

Changed by Grace…

The last 9 months have been a whirlwind. I’ve managed to stay sober in spite of some of the worst cravings for alcohol I’ve ever experienced. I prayed frequently for help and guidance. Like C.S. Lewis in the opening quote of this post: “…There were no lights in the windows. It might be an empty house. ” I thought I wasn’t getting answers, but they just weren’t coming in the manner I expected.

Last December, I cut my day job back to part-time so I could concentrate on my music career and open up a freelance motion graphics business…both things I LOVE (and both were still things I was not willing to sacrifice on the Lord’s altar). Both ventures failed miserably and by April, I was back to full-time work as a professional driver, although I still played in several bands on a part-time basis.

God’s grace started randomly showing up in my life. Amazing coincidences led me to rethink everything I thought I knew. Remember what I said about coincidences? There are no coincidences–God’s just trying to tell us something!

Let the changes begin…

Without recognizing any pattern or plan, in rapid-fire succession I was trading bad habits for good ones…all at the same time. The lifestyle change had officially begun:

  • I cut all refined sugar from my diet and found the self-control to stick to a low-carb diet and lost 70 pounds
  • I stopped my Sunday afternoon Netflix binges and started writing a journal. This allowed me to recognize life patterns associated with my alcoholism
  • I received a calling as ward choir director at church (after 5 years of without any calling), and for the first time in my life, I started arranging church music. At the same time, I stopped accepting ANY music gigs in bars
  • I abandoned my 300+ title Audible library and completely stopped listening to pop music on the radio. I subscribed to Deseret Book “Bookshelf” and started listening (8 hours every day) to gospel discussions and scriptures on audio-book
  • I had several unexplained and miraculous financial gains immediately after I started paying tithing
  • I started feeling timely and definitive inspiration regarding stuff I was praying for

For the first time in my life, I realized that I had (and had ALWAYS had) a special gift from God…a gift of the spirit that Moroni refers to as “the gift of exceeding great faith” (Moroni 10:11). Almost overnight, I was confident that the Lord would honor my righteous requests.

And…with every small victory, I was filling the rooms of my empty house with righteous and uplifting things that would prevent the evil spirits from returning.

“Then Jesus beholding him, loved him, and said unto him: One thing thou lackest…” (Mark 10:21)

In spite of all the good stuff that was happening in my formerly empty house, God still did not take away my alcohol cravings. Satan capitalized on this and the choice of whether or not to stop at the liquor store became a daily if not hourly dilemma.

Then…the breakthrough

One Sunday morning, I got an unexpected call from a musician friend. We talked for a long time, and the conversation left me extremely agitated. It literally drove me to my knees as soon as I hung up the phone. I spent most of the day in prayer and still was agitated and confused when I finally went to bed.

There weren’t any dreams or visions in the night, but the next morning I woke up knowing without a doubt what I needed to do. I got up and fired off an email to my booking agent:

“Over the past 6 months, I’ve found faith in prayer and have received personal revelation from God like never before. Yesterday, I spent a good portion of the day in prayer. This morning I woke up with an answer in my mind and a level of peace regarding my music career that I have not felt in over a decade. In a still small voice, God spoke to me.

PLEASE listen closely to God’s answer to me:
“Kyle, you are not meant to be a full-time musician at this time. Stop trying to make money with music and treat it as it should be…praise to me and enjoyment and relaxation to you. Immediately QUIT any activity that is causing you anxiety, taking time away from your family, and/or chasing my spirit away, and pursue only those projects that invite my spirit into your life”

“My goals have changed dramatically over the past few months. I apologize if this is bad timing for you, but I will be resigning from “The Headliners” band, effective immediately.”

No regrets. No longingly looking back like Lot’s wife.

My choice was made and I have not doubted the source of my inspiration for so much as a moment since.


And just like that, the miracle came:
MY CRAVINGS ARE GONE!

Does Satan still tempt me? Absolutely.
Have I suddenly reached perfection? Nope…that certainly won’t happen in THIS lifetime.
But guess what??! For the first time in my adult life, I actually feel in control of my appetites and passions.

“…and the Lord spake unto me, saying…”

“…my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.”

Ether 12:26-27

Epilogue:

I’ve got a confession for you…I STILL have an addiction issue. It’s probably the strongest addiction of my entire life. By the grace of God and the Atonement of Jesus Christ, here’s what has happened:

SURVIVAL ≠ ALCOHOL
SURVIVAL = CHRIST’S GRACE

Yup, I’m addicted to God’s love!


For decades I was absolutely sure I was beyond saving. I testify to you that NOBODY is beyond God’s love or the grace of Christ’s atonement. God’s promises are sure. Christ can rewire your survival instincts. It will take time and persistence, but I’m living proof that even those of us who don’t think we deserve it will receive answers to prayers when we ask and will receive grace even when we don’t ask.

Take a few minutes and check out this video…It’s yet another powerful testimony of God’s love for his children and the power of his grace.

As always, I’d LOVE to hear about your progress along this journey called life. Comment here or PM me at Kyle@ChangeOfHeart.LIFE. –kyle

“Joy is the serious business of heaven.”

— C. S. Lewis, Letters To Malcolm Chiefly On Prayer, p.93
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Kyle@ChangeOfHeart.LIFE

Husband. Father. Grandfather. Uncle. Son. Pro Musician. Artist. Pro Driver. Mormon. And...recovering alcoholic. Now as a professional Addiction Peer Support Specialist, I share my story at ChangeOfHeart.LIFE, facilitate 12-step meetings for the LDS Addiction Recovery Program, and work for Davis Behavioral Health at their Addiction Treatment Receiving Center.


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MaryAnn Barnett
MaryAnn Barnett
2 years ago

Thanks for your message, Kyle! You seemed to have it all, one would have never known your struggles. I don’t have anything that drastic in my life, but your message gives hope for me to ‘cast my burdens on the Lord’ and exercise more faith. Sometimes all I can see are the things I don’t have and not appreciate what I do have. May more blessings come to you for being open and giving the rest of us hope!

Ilene Greene
Ilene Greene
2 years ago

Wow! You are so eloquent in your wording and very talented in your documentation. Thank you for sharing such personal detail about your life and what you have gone through. You are so lucky to have Julie to support you. May the Lord continue to bless you and your family. You’ve done an excellent job with the Choir. We are all so blessed. Thank you for your inspiration.

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