Friday, November 18, 2016

THE EVERYDAYNESS OF PROGRESS


We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.



We justify our actions by appearances; God examines our motives. 
Proverbs 21:2, The Message

"What helps at this point is to see your consequences as your teachers. You have been sent a lesson to learn. If you don’t learn the lesson this time, it will manifest itself again, and probably in a more painful form the next time."
- Patrick Carnes, Ph. D.

The Everydayness of Progress 
We need to practice our recovery principles every day. The daily monitoring of our motives helps us to have an honest view of ourselves and this helps to insure that we continue to recover from our addictions. God doesn’t tell us to bring our failures to Him just once. He tells us to bring our failures to Him continuously, day in and day out. For you see, recovery is a continuous process of character development. We can’t be what we’re not, but with practice we can make progress and move closer to the ideal example that God gave us in Christ. This means that we need to have a well-balanced understanding of our real needs and our most honest feelings. We also need to be ruthlessly honest about the health of our relationships, and the way that we live our lives when no one is watching. To whatever degree we have been guilty of playing to the crowd, so to speak, will be the degree that we place ourselves in jeopardy, risking a relapse of addictive destruction. We have to be real, everyday. We have to quit pretending.
           
When we lack character, we need to admit it to ourselves. We need to admit it to God and we need to admit it to someone else, too. When we lack integrity we need to admit that as well. As we admit our lack of character and integrity, we open ourselves up to an infusion of God’s transforming grace which is the most fundamental building block of character and integrity. This kind of construction is very personal. It is more intimate than anything we can ever do on our own, even with or without the help of other people. It is a gift from God and not something that we have earned on our own. The work we do is essential for our growth and recovery and we certainly need help from others, but in the end it is God who changes the condition of the human heart and mind.
           
As we continue to admit our wrongdoing and as we continue to correct our mistakes whenever and however we can - the best we can - we continue to live within the framework of God’s character. God’s character continues to be built into us and His character will help us to think and live more effectively in the future. 
This is an excerpt of OUR JOURNEY HOME
 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

LIFE LIBERATED

We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

Pay all your debts, except the debt of love for others. You can never finish paying that! If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill all the requirements of God's law.
Romans 13:8, NIV

“Honest men fear neither the light nor the dark.”
- Thomas Fuller, M.D.

Life Liberated

Learning to love ourselves the way that God loves us will give us an ever increasing freedom to live our lives. This freedom to live is not just a freedom from our addictions; it is a fully liberated life that begins on the inside of us and then it moves out into all of the ways that we express ourselves. The liberty that God gives is not subject to the limitations and demands that we experience in our day-to-day lives, and while this freedom is bigger than our everyday lives, it does not make us immune to feeling fear when we are faced with uncertainty. God gives the kind of freedom and liberty that empowers and equips us to act with courage even in the face of uncertainty, when we feel fear. And, in the same way, we may feel pain but we can act with kindness even when feeling pain. The gift and responsibility of freedom is most evident when we address the negative consequences we’ve created, and when we make amends to those who have been hurt by the way we’ve lived in the past. When speaking with those to whom we owe amends, we will want to share with them that we recognize that we have had an addiction, that we know that our past actions have been hurtful and that we want to make things right to the best of our ability. Sharing the facts of our addictions and our mistakes in a general way allows us to communicate with others from a standpoint of humility and honesty. We don’t have to share every gory and ugly detail with them. We don’t need to air out all of our dirty laundry either. This is not about the past; it is about the present and about the future. We should only share what will be helpful to them and to others. Being forthright in this way, we begin to establish healthier communication with those that we’ve hurt. It will also help to put them at ease and it will put us in a place where we can more effectively make the amends that we need to make. Sharing in this way will also open the door for others to honestly share their feelings with us. Dialogue must be an honest two-way street. We must be willing to listen – honestly and openly listen -- in order to understand how we have hurt them and what we need to do to help them.

Some amends can and should be made face-to-face. Some can never be made directly. Others will have to be postponed for a better time. We’ll be of little benefit to anyone, if in our attempts to clear our own conscience, we offer ourselves as sacrificial lambs. We should consult with our sponsors and our counselors about situations where we face serious consequences. We never want to run away from the reality of our past mistakes but we also do not want to be shortsighted, disregarding our current relationships or responsibilities in an attempt to be a hero to the past. Our sponsors and counselors helped us to know how to handle each situation. When we face situations where people demand certain answers from us that we do not want to give, we consult with our sponsors and counselors. Sometimes a three-way meeting between us, our victim and our counselors is necessary for things to get going in the right direction.

There is rarely a good reason to hurry. It is far better to do recovery well than to do it fast!

Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery

Thursday, October 20, 2016

THE POINT OF OUR PRAYER

Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for the knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

Are you seeking great things for yourself Don’t do it! But don’t be discouraged! Jeremiah 45:5, NLT

“In this life we cannot always do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” - Mother Teresa

The Point of Our Prayer

People who struggle with addictions are by no means the only people who need the deep changes that only God can make. No one is exempt. We all need God and we all need the power to live that only He gives.

The following prayers are examples of how others have expressed themselves to God. They provide us with a template we can use to express ourselves to God. These prayers will remind us that our relationship with God is always the most important thing. We don’t own ourselves anymore. We belong to God now. And He can do with us whatever He knows to be best.

As we meditate on the following prayers; the people who wrote them will become like friends to us. Their prayers will help us move and grow toward God.

3rd Step Prayer from Alcoholics Anonymous
God, I offer myself to Thee – to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy love, and Thy way of life. May I do Thy will always! Amen.

Attributed to Brennan Manning
Abba, I surrender my will and my life to you today, this very moment, without reservation and with humble confidence, for you are my loving Father. Set me free from self-consciousness, from anxiety about tomorrow, and from the tyranny of the approval and disapproval of others, that I may find joy and delight simply and solely in pleasing you. May my inner freedom be a compelling sign of your presence, your peace, your power, and your love. Let your plan for my life and the lives of all your children gracefully unfold one day at a time. I love you with all my heart, and I place all my confidence in you, for you are my Abba Father. Amen.

The Serenity Prayer, from theologian Reinhold Niebuhr
God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change; Courage to change the things I can; and the Wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time; accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it: Trusting that you will make all things right if I surrender to your will; that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with you forever in the next. Amen.

Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy. Lord, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.

7th Step Prayer from Alcoholics Anonymous
My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do you bidding. Amen.

Operation Integrity Prayer
Dear God, I pray that I will learn to desire obedience more than blessing or comfort and to know that the greatest blessing in life is to live obedient to your will. May I learn to better give up my will and find my complete and total satisfaction in your will. My self-centeredness destroys me but seeking you and doing your will brings life to me. Realizing this, I have decided that my mind, my heart and my will, will be directed to you. I will find my purpose and identity in knowing you more personally and living more powerfully according to your Spirit. Amen.

OUR JOURNEY HOME
Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

GOD AS WE UNDERSTOOD HIM


We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.


This is how much God loved the world: He gave His Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in Him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn't go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.
John 3:16-18 The Message

God, I offer myself to Thee, to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of Life. May I do Thy will always! Amen
- Third Step prayer from Alcoholics Anonymous

God As We Understood Him

I am not God and neither are you. We must fully accept this simple fact if we are to ever have an effective and workable understanding of God.
           
As children, seemingly from birth that is, we tend to think that everyone and everything around us is connected to us. As we grow up a little we come to realize that we are separate from the world and only part of a larger context, but we still tend to think of the world in relationship to ourselves. It’s like we are the center of our own universe. We feel good when the ”world,” the people, the places and the things around us, give us what we think we need. But when the “world” doesn’t cooperate we tend to feel bad and then we try to change the “world” so that we can feel better. This has never worked for any of us. No matter how hard we’ve tried, we cannot control the people, the places, or the things around us all of the time. Because we believed that it was so important for us to be in control of our world, and because we invariably failed to control this world of ours, we could never provide any sense of security or well being for ourselves. No matter how hard we tried, we could not do what only God can do.

No matter how good or bad we feel, or what degree of success or failure we experience, one thing is for sure: things are going to change. God is the only constant. He is The Only Reality. The lives that we know are only temporary. The only way that we will ever experience any relevance or permanence in our life is through a relationship with God. As we understand that no one is God but God, we can begin to experience life in a way that not only transcends our addictions but all of our other failures and shortcomings, too. This is because our life, including all of our addictions and failures, becomes lost into the life that God will give to us. We’ll no longer be the center of our world. That job belongs to God and no one else.

When we really think about it, understanding God is a contradiction in terms. He is beyond our comprehension, after all. But, because of the way God made us, our hearts can know what our minds cannot. God, who is the ultimate above and beyond and more than us - actually, through the working of his Spirit - meets us within us, in our spirit that is. As God comes from the outside of us, and works within us we receive on the inside of us what it was that we needed in order to move up and beyond the addictions that have kept us down for so long. In short, God is the complete other than and more than what we can do in our own efforts. God will do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

In our addictions, we had become attached to things in ways that are destructive for us. When we rely on our attachments (whatever they are) to make us feel okay, we expect more from them than they can ever really give to us. God, however, is the perfect attachment because He is not addictive in any way. While the attachments that we made in our addictions end up taking more than they give, making an attachment with God will always give to us more than we can ever need. Besides, all that we are really giving to God is our addicted life and He gives back to us a life that is free, complete, and eternal in every way. When God is the center of our world, our life and world get put right, in order, complete, and powerful. Our relationship with God is the only relationship we will ever have that cannot become addictive or unhealthy in any way. This is because God is totally good. He cannot corrupt us because there is no corruption in Him. He cannot become unhealthy for us because He’s not unhealthy in any way. Sometimes, religious pride or indoctrination masquerades as God. This happens when it is based more on human intellect and reasoning than on faith in God himself. When this happens, religion becomes nothing more than religious posing and faking which is both highly destructive and addictive. If it is unhealthy or addictive, it is not of God. Sadly, religious addiction is perhaps the most insidious of all addictions.

Scripture is a rich history that tells us that God loves people who have addictions. God not only loves people like us, he likes us, too. He delights in the way we yearn to experience life in the most full way. Individually, He loves us and wants us no matter who we are or what we’ve done. We know this because there are people who’ve been addicted like us and who have discovered God’s love for themselves. Thankfully, an authentic relationship with God is not a matter of how smart we are, but how sincere we are with Him. He takes care of the rest. It’s simple, it’s effective, and it’s the way God is.

All of us, whether we recognize it or not, need God. We all need to know that someone is loving enough and powerful enough to perfectly love and care for us in the ways that we really need. Jesus is the One Person who has always known God in this way. Jesus reveals to us who God is and what He is like. God will never be exactly what we want Him to be, but He will always be what we truly need Him to be. Throughout history, as recorded in Scripture, there has been only one person whose life displayed perfection of purpose, whose death exemplified the perfection of love, and who had the power to live again after death, which has changed the course of world history and our own addicted lives. This is Jesus. Unlike all other human beings, Jesus was not addicted to anything in any way. Jesus had all of the same human attachments that we all have, but He never became addicted to his attachments because He put His full confidence in God and God, alone. Because His life was fully centered around God the entire scope of Jesus’ life was free.

Through Jesus, God embraces everyone who wants to be embraced. Showing this through the scriptural record, God, as He was living through Jesus, even forgave those who were attempting to destroy Him. Scripture tells us in Luke 23:34 that he even expressed love for those who were killing Him, because He knew and understood that they just didn’t know or understand who He was or what He was all about. After giving up His life, Jesus lived again and as He appeared to His followers, He declared once and for all that He is The One who is capable of giving life to addicted and dying people like us.

Jesus lived His life close to those who were, just like us, in desperate need of Him. In so doing He calls us to himself, to his love and to his God our Father. It is in Jesus that we can have confidence for life and recovery. Through Him we are empowered to live.

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Our Journey home - Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery
By David Zailer
Copyright 2011, Homecoming Books