Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Fundamentals of Forgiveness

We made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven. Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.
Luke 6:37-38, NLT


“Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”
- Anonymous

“For my part, I believe in the forgiveness of sin and the redemption of ignorance.”
- Adlai Stevenson

The Fundamentals of Forgiveness

One of the great miracles that we will experience in our 12 Step recovery process is how God will meet us more than halfway. Throughout Scripture we are told that even our smallest commitments and efforts will be met and rewarded with a return that far exceeds what we have invested. What God gives us in our recovery efforts should really be considered more like a gift, because it is not based on the magnitude of our efforts, but more on the sincerity of our hearts that is expressed through our efforts. We can be assured that even our greatest failures will be turned into good things if we have done them with a sincere heart that seeks to know God and the love that He gives.

One of the ways that God turns our failures into something good is by helping us, when we are willing, to let go of the anger and resentment that we have had. To the degree that we are willing to forgive those who have hurt us, we will be able to receive the forgiveness that God gives, especially the forgiveness that other people have to give us. For you see, healing damaged relationships – forgiveness - is a two way street. We have to be willing to give forgiveness before we can be ready to receive forgiveness. Forgiving and being forgiven is the fundamental footing that must be in place before we can build a life that is relationally solid. As we already know, we can’t build a forgiven life by ourselves. We will have to have help. We will need help from our sponsors and our counselors because every situation will be different. Even as we grow, we will have blind spots in our thinking. We need an enlarging point of view in order to take the best course of action, and our sponsors and counselors will help us to gain this much needed increase in perspective.

There is no doubt that some of the people we need to make amends to have been guilty of hurting us, too. Once again, these are situations where we should consult with our sponsors and our counselors in order to know the best way to proceed. One thing we know for sure is that in each and every case we are called to forgive. Forgiveness is the ultimate of God’s command. It is the ultimate obedience, too. When we forgive others, we become willing to let them “off the hook” at the emotional and psychological level. God commands us to forgive so that we can live better, ourselves. Forgiveness is an act of love, not only for others but most of all for ourselves. The people who have hurt us will hold us hostage forever as long as we are unwilling to let go of our anger and resentment. For some of us there have been circumstances where someone hurt us with a criminal act. In such cases we should refer to our advisors. Most certainly we must be willing to alert law enforcement to what we know. We do this in order to put a stop to the damage that was done to us and, more importantly, to take responsible actions that will help protect others in the future. While it is a good thing to see a dangerous person held accountable for his crimes, this does not excuse us from the necessity of forgiving the offender at a personal and spiritual level. Forgiving someone for hurting us does not mean that we excuse their bad behavior, either.

Who do we need to forgive and why?

Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery
By David Zailer and The Men and Women of Operation Integrity
Chapter Eight Segment Two
Copyright David Zailer, 2008
Operation Integrity
24040 Camino del Avion #A115
Monarch Beach CA 92629
1-800-762-0430
operationintegrity@cox.net

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Facing the Facts

We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
I Peter 5:6-7


“For just so long as we were convinced that we could live exclusively by our own individual strength and intelligence, for just that long was a working faith in a Higher Power impossible. This was true even when we believed God existed. We could actually have earnest religious beliefs which remained barren because we were still trying to play God ourselves. As long as we placed self-reliance first, a genuine reliance upon a Higher Power was out of the question. That basic ingredient of all humility, a desire to seek and do God’s will was missing.”
- Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous page 72 AA 12 & 12

Facing the Facts

For most of us, our first encounter with real humility was when we admitted that we had an addiction that was more powerful than we were. And, we have grown in humility as we have worked through our Step Four personal inventory. This kind of recovery work makes it possible for us to humbly ‘own’ the facts about ourselves. When we see and accept the real facts about our choices and our lives, we will be less inclined to rationalize our improper actions, minimize our difficulties or ignore the pain that other people have suffered because of our character defects. Knowing the real facts about ourselves helps us to see our own limitations and to accept the blunt truth of our needs and shortcomings. We are not all powerful. We don’t control ourselves all of the time, and we do not control other people any of the time. Humility helps us to accept these facts, giving us the eyes through which we’ll see God change who we are, the way we think, the way we handle our emotions and the way we live our lives.

The growth and maturity we experience is one of the gifts of humility that God will give to us as we responsibly admit and correct our character defects. It looks like this. When we notice a character defect expressed through our thoughts and actions, we make the choice to reverse our thinking and our actions. When we do so, our character defects will begin to lose some of their power. Every time we say ‘no’ to them, the grip they’ve habitually had on us loosens. Nothing is so helpful to curing addictions and healing character defects as to stop doing the addiction and admitting the character defects that have been a part of our addictive thinking. There is an amazing empowerment from God that comes with obedience.

As we progress in our recovery, our priorities and concerns will get reorganized. With a measure that is much greater than our obedience, we will be given the humility to desire obedience more than blessing, character more than comfort - all so that we may help and not hinder the work of God. The greatest blessing for any of us is to live free from our addiction and be fully aligned with the will of a loving God. Even before we ask, God is giving us all that we have ever needed. He is always one step ahead of us!

Our Journey Home - Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery
By David Zailer
http://www.amazon.com/Our-Journey-Home-Inspirations-Christian/dp/0615521312/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1355434062&sr=1-4&keywords=Our+Journey+Home
Copyright David Zailer, 2011

Monday, August 29, 2011

Ready and Listening

We became entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

The people I love, I call to account--prod and correct and guide so that they'll live at their best. Up on your feet, then! About face! Run after God! Look at me. I stand at the door. I knock. If you hear me call and open the door, I'll come right in and sit down to supper with you.
Revelation 3:19-20, The Message


“The teacher is heard when the student is ready to listen.”
- Ancient Chinese Proverb

Ready and Listening

We so often miss out on the deep moving of God’s Spirit because we are not available. Most of us live in a fog spiritually. God knocks and either we are not at home or we are too lazy or distracted to get up out of our easy chair to see who is at the door. God speaks to us, and all of mankind, through Scripture. The message of Scripture is meant to be assimilated as a love letter, one person at a time, yet we so often think of it as just history, teaching or principle. Scripture is certainly all that, but it is so much more. God’s Scripture is a calling of love and redemption. It is the ancient record of God communicating to us, individually and collectively, as people. Scripture is a love letter. It is a timeless record of how God wants to connect with us and draw us close. God has been speaking to us so very often and for so long and yet, most of the time, we have not responsed.

Being ready to change means that we will want to be, first and foremost, in a love fulfilling relationship with God. Yet, to some degree, we are completely aware of how far away we are from this ideal. We tend to get so caught up in telling God where we want to go with our lives that we make ourselves blind and oblivious to the idolatrous ways that we try to sculpt and mold our own souls. If we stand around waiting for God to dump some sort of monumental task and duty on us, we will miss the powerfully subtle opportunities for change and transformation that God has already set before us. Those whose ears are not tuned to hear the quiet voice of God do not change. If we want to hear we have to be willing to listen. It is the man or woman who strains to hear the quiet and sometimes seemingly distant call of love and change who gains the great prize of a transformed life experience. Rarely does it occur to us that what God really wants us to do is to live out His transforming power in all the most mundane ways. It is critically important that we give up every form of grandiosity and recognize that God’s greatest work has to do with how we live our daily lives. He is more concerned with transforming us in the ways we interact with our families, run our errands, conduct our careers and live in our neighborhoods than He is in some sort of dramatic conquest. In real life, the greatest conquests are experienced in 24-hour segments right in the center of our mundane everyday life.

The bottom line of true character transformation is understanding that God redeems people, not things. Then, as people experience God’s transforming redemption, His redemption is reflected in all areas of that person’s life. Becoming ready for God to change us means that we don’t have to get ready. We just have to be willing to be ready. We stay alert, listening for our Master Redeemer’s call. Changing us is God’s job. Our job is to simply be ready and willing to change.

The scriptural record of Moses’ life is a picture of a person who was made ready to change, even though he was seemingly unaware of the preparation that God had made in his life. The burning bush was God’s way of reaching out and capturing the willingness that Moses had in his heart, a willingness that he was previously incapable of acting on in healthy and productive ways. Scripture tells of how Moses had apparently lost all confidence in himself, and it tells of how God used the humbling circumstances and consequences of Moses’ life to make him ready and willing to hear what God had to say. Moses’ willing, albeit hesitant response to God’s call is definitive proof that he was ready for whatever God had for him.

Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery
By David Zailer and The Men and Women of Operation Integrity
Chapter Six Segment Two
Copyright David Zailer, 2008
Operation Integrity
24040 Camino del Avion #A115
Monarch Beach CA 92629
1-800-762-0430
operationintegrity@cox.net

Friday, August 26, 2011

Jerry Gets Honest with Himself

Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are – no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.”
-Matthew 5:5 The Message


“The heart is the deepest essence of a person. It symbolizes what’s at our core. The heart of the matter is that we can know and be known only through revealing what’s in our heart.”
-Brennan Manning

Jerry Gets Honest with Himself

Hello, my name is Jerry and I am an alcoholic. I was 51 years old when I first said these words and I’ve been saying them almost every day for the past 3½ years. I started drinking when I was in college. Getting drunk with my fraternity brothers was a lot of fun. Unfortunately, unlike most of my friends, I never stopped. Near the end of my drinking, I was actually drinking less often. Not because I wanted to drink any less but because I knew in my heart of hearts that my drinking was hurting my family and me. I never meant to hurt anyone.

I had gotten married at 25 and by 31 I had three beautiful daughters, a solid marriage (it looked like it on the outside), a great career and I was a leader in my church. While near the end of my drinking I was consuming less alcohol, the people around me were complaining about it more and more. They were pointing out problems that were happening because of my drinking. Even though I was drinking less, my drinking was affecting me more. Finally, the employee assistance director at work confronted me. He gave me the choice of going to a treatment program for alcoholism, that the company would pay for, or the company would demote me to a less prestigious position. My ego refused the demotion so I chose rehab.

In rehab I was confronted by my wife and daughters about how my drinking and my attitude had been hurting them for years. I was dumbfounded. I had no idea how they felt. Also, the doctor at the rehab told me that I had suffered liver damage and that I had what they called Level Two alcoholism. I wasn’t sure what that meant but it sure got my attention. I wasn’t able to sleep and my body shook for days. I was nervous and uncomfortable for three weeks after my last drink. Worst of all, as my head cleared, I became more and more ashamed of how I had let the years slip by and how I had hurt my wife and daughters. I knew that I had always loved them, but I could not escape the reality of how I had held them hostage for so long. Being given the opportunity to recover, I knew that this is what I wanted to do. I wanted to change.

I started to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings while in rehab and I have never stopped. I go to an average of two – three meetings per week, depending on my schedule and my disposition. I got a sponsor and I began working the Steps on a personal basis. I spent about a month working through my Step Four inventory. I worked on it every day. Finally I sat down with my sponsor and read much of what I had written down to him. I also told him a lot of things that came to mind as we were sitting there talking.

While doing Step Four, I learned a lot about myself. In a nutshell, I learned that my alcoholism was only a disease and not my real problem. My real problem was me, and I would continue to be my own worst problem until I admitted this to myself, just like I had to admit to myself that I was an alcoholic. If I were to ever become a better person, free from alcoholism and selfishness, I had to admit just how selfish I had been. Being intentional and committed to self honesty was the only way that I could help myself overcome the deep-seated selfishness that had ruled me throughout my life.

In doing Step Four, I began to see what I needed to see in order to confront the self-deception that had hurt me and those around me, most specifically, my wife and children. As I admitted the exact nature of my personal wrongs to myself, I was able to feel my lifelong self idolatry begin to fall away. It felt like God was helping me to set myself aside and make other people more important than me. In doing this, I surrendered 51 years of misguided assumptions that had made me think that I was invincible, entitled and important. Fortunately, my alcoholism proved these things, and me wrong, too. I admitted to myself that I had lived in a self imposed delusion. I had been trying to rule myself, rule my family and rule my world, all in the name of being the “leader” in my home.

As I admitted these things to myself, I accepted myself at my worst for the first time in my life. As I accepted myself at my worst, I began to know grace as only God can give it. This new grace is more than just a subject I had heard about in church. It is real world, here and now. It is an overpowering, and sometimes painful, movement toward honesty. I first noticed it when I sat alone in rehab, crying uncontrollably. That day, amidst the pain that I was experiencing, God’s grace helped me to have a sense that things were going to change and that I would get the help that I had been too afraid to seek.

I know I don’t deserve the goodness that has taken hold of me. As I have become honest about my character shortcomings, I have been able to surrender a battle that I had been losing all of my life. The more explicit and honest I have been with myself, the more effective my repentance has been. And, I have found an energy that gives me the stamina to follow the path that God gives me to travel. Without an effective path to follow and the strength that God gives me to follow it, I could never truly repent or change. I thank God for my alcoholism and for my 12-Step journey, specifically Step Five. Getting honest with myself and learning to accept myself as someone that God is willing to work with has been a turning point in my life. Letting go of my self denials has not only helped me to quit drinking but helped me to become a new kind of man who now brings goodness and delight to his wife and his family.

Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery
By David Zailer and The Men and Women of Operation Integrity
Chapter Five Segment Two
Copyright David Zailer, 2008
Operation Integrity
24040 Camino del Avion #A115
Monarch Beach CA 92629
1-800-762-0430
operationintegrity@cox.net

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Recovering a Healthy Relationship with Ourselves

We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

But you desire honesty from the heart, so you can teach me to be wise in my inmost being. Psalm 51:6 NLT

“The moral inventory is a cool examination of the damages that occurred to us during life and a sincere effort to look at them in true perspective. This has the effect of taking the ground glass out of us, the emotional substance that still cuts and inhibits.”
- Bill Wilson founder of Alcoholics Anonymous

Recovering a Healthy Relationship with Ourselves

No matter how we may rationalize it differently, our addictions have been destroying us. Part of the insanity of addiction is how we tend to minimize the damage that our addictions do. To whatever degree that we have brought pain into the lives of other people, we must admit it. But it is likely that we are the ones who have been hurt the most by our addictions.

This section of Step Four is an attempt to see how our addictions have hurt us individually. It is important that we be as objective as possible. We are not the focus. What we are looking to do is to recognize the causes and the conditions, and the thinking and believing that have promoted the growth of addiction in our lives. We look ourselves over much like we would examine a part of our body that is hurting. We do it with care, in a nurturing way. Friendly, respectful, objective detachment is one way to look at it. We don’t want to deny how we feel at any moment in time but, at the same time, this is not a sentimental journey, either.

We sift through our life, past and present, in order to identify the selfish thinking, the corrupted beliefs and the ineffective emotional maladjustments that promote our addictions. We need to understand that addictions grow because of self-centeredness. Addiction is not the cause of moral failings nor is it a moral failing in and of itself. Addiction, and any subsequent moral failings are caused by spiritual and emotional longings that have gone unmet. Because of this, it is critical that we see how we have contributed to our own spiritual and emotional deprivation. For you see, our addictions take hold of us as we seek to meet needs that we cannot meet and escape pain that is too much for us to handle on our own. Sadly, in addiction, the very things that we have used to escape our pain actually increase our pain. Then, addictions grow and deepen all the more.

Most certainly, some of the pain we have experienced in life has come from other people. For now, let’s just do our best to take a non-emotional look at what these people did to us and how it made us feel. For the sake of our recovery, it’s important that we don’t judge other people’s motives. That is God’s job, after all. He is the only One who has all the facts. We should just look at what they did, not why they did it. Let them work out their own troubles with God, just like we are doing. Any resentments that we have against others should be listed and cataloged. We will discuss them later, at the appropriate time and place.

As we move forward, God will give us courage. We will see things with a better focus. We may not be all that we thought we were. And that’s okay. Whatever we are, God says that He loves us. In time we will grow to love ourselves, too.

• Describe how you feel about yourself right after you have acted out in one of your addictions?
• How has your addiction affected the way you think about your life and your future?
• Describe the pain you feel when you consider the relationships you have lost because of your addictions.
• How have you objectified yourself financially, sexually or emotionally?
• Do you remember your first sexual experience? What was it?
• How have you violated your own sexual ethics?
• How have you been a hypocrite religiously, sexually or socially?
• Why and how do you feel sorry for yourself?
• How have you manipulated yourself with self-pity?
• Are you mad at yourself? Why?
• How have your addictions affected the goals and plans that you had for your life?
• Why would you sacrifice long-term health for short-term gratification?
• Do you work too much? Why?
• How have you exaggerated your successes?
• Have you ever asked yourself why you would ever do certain things?
• In what ways have you repeated dangerous experiences?
• How and why have you minimized your addictions and your mistakes?
• What are you avoiding?
• Do you like yourself? Why not?


Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery
By David Zailer and The Men and Women of Operation Integrity
Chapter Four Segment Two
Copyright David Zailer, 2008
Operation Integrity
24040 Camino del Avion #A115
Monarch Beach CA 92629
1-800-762-0430
operationintegrity@cox.net

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Decision

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

“If any of you want to be my followers, you must forget about yourself. You must take up your cross and follow Me. If you want to save your life, you will destroy it. But if you give up your life for Me, you will find it. What will you gain, if you own the whole world but destroy yourself? What would you give to get back your soul?”
Matthew 16:24-26


“To gain that which is worth having, it may be necessary to lose everything.”
- Bernadette Devlin

The Decision

It has been said that everyone will have their Waterloo. Now, in addiction we have found ours, too. We can no longer deceive ourselves, or anyone else for that matter. Our addictions have been profound. We know it, and other people know it too. Because of this, we just don’t have the energy to go on the way we’ve been going. Physically, mentally, and spiritually we’re done. It’s all over. It’s the end. It seems that we’re as good as dead. But here, when we’re at the end of ourselves, there is a calling for us. God, the giver of life, is calling for us to accept the loss of our own lives in order to accept the life that he has to give us.

The decision to surrender ourselves to God’s care is far more personal and practical than religious. We surrender our will and life to God because if we continue to live as we have, our addictions will destroy us. We’ve simply come to understand that God is a life-or-death decision for all of us. And today, each of us decides whether we are willing to trust God or continue our journey alone. Failing to trust leaves us spiritually alone and unprotected against our own progressing addictions. This is a potentially fatal mistake for anyone who has an addiction.

When we decide to trust God we are not making a religious decision, although many religions encourage us to do this as well. You see it’s not religion that we need. If religion was the answer for our addictions those of us who came from religious backgrounds would never have had the addictions that we’ve had. What we really need is intimacy with God. Intimacy with God is far more personal than religious. It is an intimacy that transcends all that we are as human beings. Intimacy with God puts God inside of us. It makes us bigger than what we could ever be on our own. We call it a surrender because we can’t be exactly sure how this intimacy with God will affect us. But while we may not know exactly how God and his goodness will play out in our lives we do know that it will be far better than staying in our addictions.

Ultimately, all of us will stand before God with their future literally in their own hands, making their life decision for themselves in their own personal way. Some recovering addicts, when they made their decision to trust their life to God, experienced immediate and profound gratitude with dramatic emotional outbursts. Others experienced only a quiet sense of relief that their life would change. Whatever the experience is for us as individuals, each of us must understand that it is far better to make the decision to surrender and trust than continue on the way we were going. We know that we must have God’s help and we have decided to ask for it.

As we make the decision to surrender our lives to God, let’s pray in ways that are personal and intimate. Let’s pray like this…

Dear God,
Only you are God and I am not. You are the Maker and Fulfiller of life. As for me, I know that I originate from you, that I exist because of you. Today, I make the decision to give myself to you, the best I know how. You own me, as far as I am concerned. I am yours. I give you my old life and I ask for you to give me your life. You can do with me anything you want to do.

Now there are times when I get deceived and I become distracted from you. When I do, I feel that you are far away and I am hurt, from the inside out, when I sin. But, according to your Word and your promises, I know that You are always with me. Only You can save me from my addictions and my sins, renewing me in the center of my soul, my will. You protect me, You save me, You transform me.

I thank You for the changes in me that You have promised. I want to be more of yours. I seek You, and by your grace I am finding and knowing You. It is my desire to know You more intimately and to more effectively live out the life You have for me. Amen

Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery
By David Zailer and The Men and Women of Operation Integrity
Chapter Three Segment Two
Copyright David Zailer, 2008
Operation Integrity
24040 Camino del Avion #A115
Monarch Beach CA 92629
1-800-762-0430
operationintegrity@cox.net

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

When the Blind See

We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

As Jesus was leaving town, trailed by his disciples and a parade of people, a blind beggar by the name of Bartimaeus, son of Timaeus, was sitting alongside the road. When he heard that Jesus the Nazarene was passing by, he began to cry out, "Son of David, Jesus! Mercy, have mercy on me!" Many tried to hush him up, but he yelled all the louder, "Son of David! Mercy, have mercy on me!" Jesus stopped in his tracks. "Call him over." They called him. "It's your lucky day! Get up! He's calling you to come!" Throwing off his coat, he was on his feet at once and came to Jesus. Jesus said, "What can I do for you?" The blind man said, "Rabbi, I want to see." "On your way," said Jesus. "Your faith has saved and healed you." In that very instant he recovered his sight and followed Jesus down the road. Mark 10:46-52 The Message

"It's really very simple, either God is going to save me, or I'm screwed."
-Robert Orman

When The Blind See

Enmeshed into and promoting all addictive behaviors, is a self-defeating and destructive way of thinking. It’s the way that we’ve seen ourselves and life as a whole that has been the problem. This includes inaccurate and distorted personal beliefs and self-centered agendas that send us time and again into insane activities. With this in mind we can begin to see that our problems are deeper than our behaviors; our problems are how we perceive ourselves and life as a whole.

We all can change the outside of our lives temporarily, but it’s been changing the insides that has been impossible up to now. As we get honest about our addictions we can begin to see that some of the most pervasive damage done to us has been the result of a way of thinking that was closed-minded, selfish, and chronically frustrated and negative. At best our lives have been a groping around in darkness. At times we would see something that we think will help us and we grasp for it only to find that it was nothing more than a vapor or a shadow. Life was always getting worse, never better. We were dying a little more every day. All this is what God wants to change.

In Mark 10:46-52 we read about a blind man who encountered Jesus and came away having had his blindness healed. This blind man, whose name was Bartimaeus, can be our guide as to how we, too, can find our blindness of perspectives healed and made whole by God. Bartimaeus’ blindness was apparently physical, where ours is more a spiritual and psychological blindness. But, the principles that we need to apply to our lives are the same. Bartimaeus, when he heard that Jesus was coming down the road, abandoned his place, and in “throwing off his coat” made a mad dash to seek out Jesus. It seems that Bartimaeus was hungry and desperate for healing. This desperate hunger, along with a hopeful belief that it was possible for Jesus to help him, caused him to take decisive action. Bartimaeus’ belief in the possibility that his life could be made whole drew an amazing affirmation from Jesus himself. Jesus said, "Your faith has saved and healed you."

This is what it can be like for us. As we come to believe that it is possible for our lives to be different, God, working through others, can heal us, giving us renewed sight to see perspectives of sanity and health. Our lives will be different. We can be healed. We will be healed. Most likely it will not be an instantaneous healing like our friend Bartimaeus had, but a healing restoration of sanity nonetheless. Most often the healing that we will experience will be a slowly developing correction of poor eyesight. As we seek out the help that God provides, we will, one day at a time, experience increasing clarity of thinking and a growing sense that our future will be bright, happy, joyous and free. Furthermore, as we accept the friendship of the blind man and as we place our hope in Jesus, we come to believe that God loves to heal the blind.

Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery
By David Zailer and The Men and Women of Operation Integrity
Chapter Two Segment Two
Copyright David Zailer, 2008
Operation Integrity
24040 Camino del Avion #A115
Monarch Beach CA 92629
1-800-762-0430
operationintegrity@cox.net

Monday, August 22, 2011

Reaching Out for Healing

We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Jesus answered them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent." Luke 5:31,32 NLT

“Grace strikes us when we are in great pain and restlessness…. Sometimes at that moment a wave of light breaks into our darkness, and it is though a voice were saying: ‘You are accepted.’” -Paul Tillich

Reaching Out for Healing

It is not likely that anyone will visit a doctor when he is healthy. It’s only the weak and suffering who need a doctor’s care. In the past we have denied the sickness and suffering in our lives but in Step 1 we admitted our problems and we accepted the fact that we could not manage our lives on our own. After all, it’s been the pain from our addictions that’s motivated us to get help. Furthermore, we have to be honest with others if we really want to recover. We must honestly admit our problems in order to get the help that will help us to change. Only a crazy person would go to a doctor and then not be honest about what he really needed.

God is the Great Physician, the One who will ultimately heal us from our addictions. In Scripture we have a historical record of how God has healed the sick and suffering through the person and life of Jesus Christ. In Jesus, God never turned away from those in need. When people in pain came to God with their hopeful sincerity he always responded by healing them. Jesus, in giving God’s grace, not only cured the outer illnesses, He healed internal illnesses as well. The healing that Jesus offered to others helps us to understand that we are loved and accepted by God, and that his love and acceptance is available to us even before we knew that we needed it. As God heals us internally, spiritually we receive an empowerment that helps us to heal emotionally and psychologically. Spiritual health and psychological health go hand in hand. This hand in hand kind of health is the unifying, integrating work of grace.

Today God continues to work through human beings. Just as Jesus heals us for eternity, there are people who can help heal us in our day-to-day lives. In order for us to recover from our addictions, it is necessary for us to seek out and accept help from various God-given resources like medical doctors, mental health professionals and recovery support groups. These people and organizations are the most common ways that God help us recover from our addictions. They are to us on a day to day level what Jesus is to us on the eternal and spiritual level. As God through Jesus heals us internally, these people help us to see the acceptance of God and His love and healing become a reality in our lives every day. Remember, no one recovers alone.

Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery
By David Zailer and The Men and Women of Operation Integrity
Chapter Two Segment One
Copyright David Zailer, 2008
Operation Integrity
24040 Camino del Avion #A115
Monarch Beach CA 92629
1-800-762-0430
operationintegrity@cox.net

Friday, August 19, 2011

Destiny Arrives and We Show Up

Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry the message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious - the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.
Philippians 4:8-9, The Message


"Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace."
- Frederick Buechner

Destiny Arrives and We Show Up

None of us ever meant to get addicted to anything. We didn’t ask for it, and we didn’t intend it. In the beginning, addiction was the last thing we ever thought would happen to us. But, nonetheless, we got addicted anyway. In the end, no matter how naive or innocent we might have been, we have had to confess that our addictions have been deeply rooted in our bad thinking and our lack of a real faith in God. We now know how a lack of authentic faith and bad thinking go hand in hand.

Recovery became possible for us when we admitted our need and began to accept the help that God made available. Making this confession helped us hope for a better life than the one we had known in the past. We began to see that God had bigger and better plans for us than we did. Following His plan, both our addictions and our healing became a pathway. They became like stepping-stones to a revolutionary kind of personal transformation that we never could have envisioned when we first started our journey. And along the way, we receive much more than we ever could have expected or anticipated. We have been changed on the inside. We have learned things that no book could ever teach us. We have gained insights and had experiences that we could never get in any classroom or from any other person, either. There is a new presence and reality within us and it is more than our senses can identify, more than our physical bodies can contain and very, very much more than we can ever explain. We have God’s Spirit working inside of us and through us.

The way we experience recovery is a unique and personalized gift from God. We receive it and experience it on an individual and personal basis. It is a redemption that is deeply intimate between God and us, together, just the two of us, connecting and being close. This is why none of us will ever have the exact same experience in recovery or with God. And while we all have our own intimate encounter with God, the recovery experience He gives is not ours to keep for ourselves. We must be willing to share it if we want to keep it long-term. And as we share our experience with others, we will discover that we have much more in common than we ever realized before. This is how God expands and multiplies the intimate life He has shared with us.


Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery
By David Zailer and The Men and Women of Operation Integrity
Chapter Twelve Segment One
Copyright David Zailer, 2008
Operation Integrity
24040 Camino del Avion #A115
Monarch Beach CA 92629
1-800-762-0430
operationintegrity@cox.net

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Different Desire

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.

Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. Philippians 4:6-7, The Message

“We must be motivated from within, not from without. We must live our lives before God, knowing that He sees all and that our reward will come from Him if we persist in doing what He has asked us to do.” - Joyce Meyer

A Different Desire

We have failed to meet our own needs. Everything we’ve tried to make ourselves right has ended in failure. Surrendering our lives to God is more of an act of desperation than of virtue. We didn’t surrender because we were good or honorable or because we thought we had our lives under control. We surrendered our lives to Him in order to save our lives!

We must never lose sight of the fact that God is never gained by virtue. He is only discovered when a bankrupt man or woman seeks Him. Desperate, every one of us has had our own personal reasons why we surrendered our lives to God. Some reasons seemed like really good ones and others seemed very selfish, and that’s okay because any and every reason to seek God and recover from our brokenness is a good one. And there is never a bad reason to ask God for help.

In recovery we learn to seek God for better and more important reasons than the reasons we had when we first started. As we progress, we learn to seek Him and to surrender to Him for the best reason: God Himself. We came to God because we had to, but we stay with God because we learn to live in His grace. There is no other place for us to find a life that is worth living.

Darnell’s Story

I have never had a better life than the one I have today. For the first time I have the life I’d hoped for when I was a kid. Growing up, I saw how my friends enjoyed life. They had a positive outlook that always escaped me. My days were spent in self-loathing and envy and these feelings drove me to desperate measures. I was always trying to escape the way I felt but I never could.

But, thankfully things have changed. I got the help I needed with my drug addiction and I made the decision to give my life to God. As a result, today I am thankful to be alive. I am learning to be content with the way things are and I have hope for the future. Now I must say that even with as good as I am doing, I still feel a restlessness within me. I still want something more. It’s like I’ve been on a very long journey to get home and while seeing my home in the distance, the last mile is all uphill.

My deep yearnings have not disappeared, but now that God has met me in my pain, the way I interpret my feelings has changed. My feelings are not the chronic emptiness they once were. It’s hard for me to explain. My painful feelings are more like the kind of soreness that comes from good exercise. I feel a longing, like the longing for a loved one that I know is coming home to be with me soon.

Having come to know the greatest joy in the universe – God – I have been enlarged so that I am ready for more of whatever good God has to give me. My appetite for badness - my addiction that is - has lessened and my appetite for goodness has increased. My soul is not yet completely satisfied, but it is filled up with a joy that overrides my yearning when I direct myself to God whom I know through Christ Jesus.

Life is simpler now. It’s as simple as this, With God there is life; without God there is no life. This simple principle transforms everything I think, feel and do. With it, I become the kind of man who lives privately just like I would if everyone were watching me. I wrote this poem as a prayer. It sums it up for me.

Dear God,
The more I seek You, the more I find You;
The more I find You, the more I love You;
The more I love You, the more I seek You.

Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery
By David Zailer and The Men and Women of Operation Integrity
Chapter Eleven Segment One
Copyright David Zailer, 2008
Operation Integrity
24040 Camino del Avion #A115
Monarch Beach CA 92629
1-800-762-0430
operationintegrity@cox.net

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Integrity Inside, Integrity Outside

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

God is in charge of human life, watching and examining us from the inside and out.
Proverbs 20:27, The Message


“The genesis of an obedient life is our confession, most notably the confession of our disobedience is what prompts us to live an obedient life with God.”
- Ann Lamott, page 99, Bird by Bird

Integrity Inside and Out

Ever notice how easy it is to become more concerned with how we look on the outside than with the honest reality of our inner character? It’s not like we intend to be dishonest because we don’t. We want and intend to live right and to do good but, inevitably it seems, we slip off the path of God’s leading when we become overly concerned with how we look to others. Then, the failures that follow make us feel embarrassed and ashamed so we naturally – instinctively - cover up and hide the failure and powerlessness that we don’t want others to see.

Trying to act ‘good’ on the outside in order to show that we are ‘good’ on the inside sets us up for failure. It adds to our dysfunctional way of thinking and living. We think and feel one way but then we act out in other ways, ways that are contrary to what we know to be right. And, when our actions go against our true convictions, we get split into pieces spiritually and psychologically. This results in a kind of deep interpersonal disintegration that, sadly, we will probably not even realize is happening to us. Just like with our primary addiction, the only way to break this cycle of denial and disintegration is to admit that we have a problem. Specifically, we have to be willing to admit that we suffer from the great obsession that all human beings, with the exception of Jesus, seem to suffer from; we want to be bigger and more powerful than we really are.

To address this kind of deep-rooted sinfulness effectively, we have to admit that we are obsessed with getting our act together so that others will be impressed with us and our efforts. We must admit our struggles if we want to be free from them. This even includes admitting how obsessed we have been to overcome our struggles. We need to admit that we don’t have our act together and that we never did have our act together. We need to accept in our innermost selves that even if it were possible for us to get our act together, all that we would ever have would be nothing more than an act.

The first act of integrity is to admit that we lack integrity.

Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery
By David Zailer and The Men and Women of Operation Integrity
Chapter Ten Segment One
Copyright David Zailer, 2008
Operation Integrity
24040 Camino del Avion #A115
Monarch Beach CA 92629
1-800-762-0430
operationintegrity@cox.net

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Talk is Cheap

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

God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God. Matthew 5:9, NLT

“Let’s not talk prudence while practicing evasion.”
- Alcoholics Anonymous, page 85, The Twelve and Twelve

Talk is Cheap

It is time that we begin repairing the damage and hurt that we have caused other people whenever and wherever it is possible for us to do so. Initiating peace and healing will always be one of the responsibilities that we have in the life that God is giving to us. So, let us commit ourselves to helping others, helping them to recover from the pain that we have caused them -- pain that they didn’t create or deserve.

This will probably not be easy. Ask any recovering addict that has preceded us in the process of making Step Nine amends and they will tell you that making amends is hard and difficult work. And, it is all the more difficult when we are offering our amends to people who, in all likelihood, may resent us. Unfortunately, there is no shortcut or magic wand in setting our wrongs right, especially where other people are involved. Looking for shortcuts will only get us lost into our own self-created world of fantasy and make-believe. Recovery from addiction and enjoying healthy relationships only happens in the real world. If we really want to recover and have good relationships in the future we will have to be willing to live in the real world.

Making amends is not optional if we want to recover, grow and change. The best thing we can do is to help those who have been hurt by our addictions and the self -centered ways that we have lived our lives.

Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery
By David Zailer and The Men and Women of Operation Integrity
Chapter Nine Segment One
Copyright David Zailer, 2008
Operation Integrity
24040 Camino del Avion #A115
Monarch Beach CA 92629
1-800-762-0430
operationintegrity@cox.net

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Responsibility of Life

We made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

Do to others as you would like them to do to you. Luke 6:31, NLT

"We make good actions and let those actions speak for us."
-- The Men of Operation Integrity

The Responsibility of Life

We started to identify our shortcomings, all of which stem from our self-centeredness, in our Step Four inventory. We realized that we had lived for ourselves, (usually without realizing it) and other people have suffered because of it. Now, because of God’s power to transform us, things can be different. The recovery that we are experiencing today brings with it an increasing awareness of our shortcomings, which helps to further illuminate our need for God, as well as deepen our desire for the kind of life that only God can give to us. We see ourselves and the world around us differently from the way we did before. We can have hopeful enthusiasm for our future. This new life that God is giving to us is good. It is better than anything we could have provided for ourselves. But, as good as we may feel about ourselves and our recovery, for most of us, if we are willing to look deep enough to see it, there remains a deep, nagging sense that there is still unfinished business that we need to tend to. This new life in Christ that we are receiving will be short-lived if we don’t continue to grow away from our selfishness or if we forget how we have negatively impacted the lives of others.

Everything that we say and everything that we do affects the lives of the people around us. In ways that are sometimes big or sometimes small, and very often in ways that we don’t even realize, all that we say and do solicits reaction and response from others. The way that we live our lives will inevitably engage other people, bringing reactions and consequences back to us. Like it or not, good or bad, we make an impact on the world, beginning first and foremost with those closest to us. It is impossible to escape the impact and influence that we have. The most honest questions we can ask ourselves are, What will be the result of our lives? What impact will we have? Will we be men and women of change, growth and integrity or will we live for ourselves, taking from and consuming the people and the world around us?

Names of people we have hurt What we did





Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery
By David Zailer and The Men and Women of Operation Integrity
Chapter Eight Segment One
Copyright David Zailer, 2008
Operation Integrity
24040 Camino del Avion #A115
Monarch Beach CA 92629
1-800-762-0430
operationintegrity@cox.net

Friday, August 12, 2011

From Shame to Grace

We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

For God can use sorrow in our lives to help us turn away from sin and seek salvation. We will never regret that kind of sorrow. But sorrow without repentance is the kind that results in death. 2 Corinthians 7:10, NLT

“We can accept God’s good gifts too easily. Grace can be accepted only when we face our own inabilities. Forgiveness can be embraced only when we lay bare our wrongdoing, and hope can be imparted only when we face the reality of our own despair.” - Charles Ringma

From Shame to Grace

Humility is an awareness that we are both imperfect and worthwhile at the same time. Humility is a high ground that traverses the bogs and swamps of grandiosity and self-hatred. Humility chooses to follow God’s plan over our own. When we live humbly, which we can be defined as consistently choosing God’s way of doing things over our own way of doing things, impossibly good things begin to happen to otherwise impossible people like us. We get turned inside out. Our attitude begins to change. Our outlook on life becomes healthier and more balanced. The destructive feelings we have had for ourselves will diminish. We will begin to see things differently. As we change on the inside, things around us begin to change as well. Life and the way we live it begin to make sense.

Humility is an acceptance of ourselves, sin and all. Humility helps us to see ourselves with one eye to evaluate and the other eye to appreciate. Humility admits to shortcoming and wrongdoing, then it reaches out and accepts the help that is needed to make serious changes. Humility helps us to understand the problems that we cannot solve on our own. This is why Jesus becomes increasingly important to us in our recovery. For you see, God never expects us to solve all of our problems on our own. He understands that our character defects and our addictions are beyond our ability to change. So, God offers to do for us what we can never do for ourselves. He offers to transform us by taking our character defects and, in exchange, replacing them with the character of Jesus. All we have to do to is to give up our character defects to Him and humbly receive Jesus’ character as God, according to His plan, builds it in us.

Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery
By David Zailer and The Men and Women of Operation Integrity
Chapter Seven Segment One
Copyright David Zailer, 2008
Operation Integrity
24040 Camino del Avion #A115
Monarch Beach CA 92629
1-800-762-0430
operationintegrity@cox.net

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Dissatisfaction and Desire

We became entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness…
Matthew 5:6 NLT

“Discontent is holy when it compels us to dream of redemption."
- Dan Allender, PhD

Dissatisfaction and Desire

Being part of a recovery fellowship on an ongoing basis will provide us with many opportunities to hear others tell about how they have suffered because of their addictions and what it has been like for them to find recovery. One of the most incredible and amazing things that we will ever experience in a meeting is when someone shares how he or she has become grateful for having had addictions. In recovery, it is possible for the pain of our addictions to become a great motivator in our lives. Pain keeps us moving forward, compelling us to keep reaching out to find answers for the pain and troubles of life. As we recover, we find a very simple but profound solution. The solution is for us is to want God, and what He has to give us, more than we want what we, or our addictions, can provide us. This new kind of God-given desire helps us to see that pain is not our enemy and we don’t need to run from it anymore. As we become wiling to face the day-to-day pains of life our pain and difficulties are transformed into powerful assets of learning and growth. Embracing pain as a learning opportunity brings us face to face with God’s work of redemption, a work that is only available to those who have the deep, pliable humility that soaks out of a desperate and dying pain.

We all seem to want more out of life than what we can provide for ourselves. Not only do we fail to supply ourselves with the things that we think will make us happy; our addictions prove that we fail to provide ourselves with a satisfying level of interpersonal and spiritual connectedness, too. We all fall short. We all fail to meet our own needs. By recognizing how we have failed to meet our own needs, no matter how hard we tried, we can see that the things that we’ve been addicted to are not our biggest problem. Our real problem is who we are. We are all in need of a complete, interpersonal overhaul, starting with the very core of our minds, our hearts and our innermost character.

Our addictions grow from a deep personal longing inside of us that silently cries out to be touched. When our deep longing goes untouched, we cry out all the more in ever deeper ways, craving with an ever-increasing intensity for more of the things that brought us relief in the past. This is how our addictions take hold of us. Deep-rooted painful feelings of uselessness, worthlessness and loneliness can be the triggers that send us back to our addictions time after time. With our longing unsatisfied, and after numerous and repeated attempts to do the right thing, invariably we fail, once again, falling ever deeper into our addictions. Desperate, over time, we become wholly and completely dissatisfied with who we are and with the way that we have lived our lives. Our good intentions and our failures have simmered together until, finally, with God’s help, we become entirely ready to be recreated into a fundamentally different kind of person. We are sick and tired of being sick and tired. We are convinced that we will never satisfy our own innermost needs. Staying the same is no longer acceptable to us. We want to be different. Deep in our hearts we know that if we do not humbly make the choice to change, we will eventually die still wallowing in our addictions.

This profound misery and discontent is the birth point of a new healthier desire - a desire based not on our previous loves or lusts, but more on a healthy and compelling desire, to experience new life inside of us. The pain of our addictions helps us to understand that we really don’t need things to change but it is the “I”, the “ME”, the “WE” that need to change. We are no longer satisfied with just being healed from our addictions. We want to have our complete and total self reformatted and changed by the perfect design of God.

Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery
By David Zailer and The Men and Women of Operation Integrity
Chapter Six Segment One
Copyright David Zailer, 2008
Operation Integrity
24040 Camino del Avion #A115
Monarch Beach CA 92629
1-800-762-0430
operationintegrity@cox.net

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Admitted to God

Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.


He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy. Blessed is the man who always fears the LORD, but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble.
Proverbs 28:13-14 NLT


"My false and private self is the one who wants to exist outside the reach of God’s will and God’s love – outside of reality and outside of life. And such a self cannot help but be an illusion."
-Thomas Merton

Admitting to God

Getting honest about the details of our lives is the most powerful thing we can do to strengthen our intimate connection with God. Honesty puts us on the same page with Him. Knowing that He knows everything about us, there is no reason to hide what is inside of us anymore. When we get honest with God, we “cash the check” so to speak; we open ourselves up and receive the grace that He has already provided for us, through Christ.

Step Five is not a religious exercise so it’s important that we don’t over -spiritualize this aspect of our recovery. We are just admitting, with as much detail as we can, what God already knows. We acknowledge that we have never benefited from minimizing our weaknesses and shortcomings. We admit our pride and our stubbornness, with as much clarity as possible, most notably all of our silly attempts to solve our spiritual and emotional problems. We confess that we have been self righteousness in covert and creative ways. We admit that we have never fooled God and that we rarely fooled anyone else, only ourselves. We tell the details about how we have judged other people and, with as much humility as possible, we admit how our religiosity has kept God, and the goodness that He intends for us, at arm’s length.

God has known us in a deep way. Now we will begin to know ourselves in a deep way, too. As we are willing to admit the exact nature of our wrongs to God, we will be able to accept the acceptance that He gives. As we accept the acceptance that He gives, we will begin to accept ourselves in the same way; even the worst about us. The more we admit our shortcomings to God, the more we slice away at the fears that have ruled us from the inside. We will learn to be at peace with the mysterious ways of God. Accepting His deep acceptance, we will no longer be obsessed with trying to figure out the hidden streams and currents of God. We will lose our inhibitions. We will want to strip down, reveal ourselves completely and swim in the power of goodness that God offers to us. We will never sink or get lost when we are honest with God. He’ll do the navigating for us. Knowing that we are known by God in this intimate way, we can live at rest. We will be buoyed in His grace forever, floating and moving with the currents of His guidance and care. There is no need to fear the oceanic mystery of God anymore. No matter where His currents lead our lives, the ultimate destination for us is more than very, very good.

Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery
By David Zailer and The Men and Women of Operation Integrity
Chapter Five Segment One
Copyright David Zailer, 2008
Operation Integrity
24040 Camino del Avion #A115
Monarch Beach CA 92629
1-800-762-0430
operationintegrity@cox.net

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Getting A Clear View

We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

God is in charge of human life, watching and examining us from the inside and out.
Proverbs 20:27 The Message


“It is not your diligence; it is not your examination of yourself that will enlighten you concerning sin. Instead, it is God who does all the revealing… If you try to be the one who does the examining, there is a very good chance that you will deceive yourself.” --Jeanne Guyon

Getting A Clear View

Every form of addiction is unique in that it has it’s own challenges and difficulties that must be addressed. On the other hand, every form of addiction will share some things in common with other addictions, too. For you see, addiction is really just one disease. It just happens to show itself in many, many different ways.

Those who suffer from one form of addiction can often relate very closely to those who suffer from other forms of addiction. Here are some examples: Alcoholics can understand the pain of withdrawal that many drug addicts experience when they attempt to stop using drugs. Someone who is obese because of an addiction to food can relate to the shame and self-hatred that many anorexics or bulimics feel. And, a man or woman who has been addicted to gambling knows quite well the obsession, and the pain, that a man or woman who is addicted to sex or pornography feels. The common ground we share will amaze us, when we are willing to see it. Also, when we are willing, God can use our addictions to teach us compassion for others. Because, you see, our addictions have less to do with what we do, than why we do it. It’s not so much about how we do something ,but what is it that we experience, the payoff that keeps us doing the destructive things we do? When we are willing to see the full spectrum of our addictions, we will see why addiction is sometimes called the most human of all diseases. We all have it, to some degree.

Addictions are about escape. When we act out, we are attempting to avoid uncomfortable feelings like fear, hopelessness, loneliness or the feeling of being unloved. We often have worked so hard to avoid our feelings that we have lost connection with what is really going on inside of us. Here, there is a simple fact that we must accept in order to recover from our addictions. That is, we must face the truth about how we feel and how we have lived our lives. Our job in Step Four is to cultivate an increasing self-clarity of who we are, what we are about, why we think the way we do and why we do the things we do. If we want to recover from all of our addictions, the place to start is with the truth and the reality about all our lives. It is important that we understand that God is the God of truth. He is the God of reality. If we procrastinate or try to avoid the truth, we will, in effect, be trying to avoid God. And, no one can do that for long.

Addictions are often a mosaic. When we act out in one way it often leads to acting out in other ways, too. To recover, we must accept the truth regarding all of our addictions. As we work through the following questions, let’s try to see the big picture. Honesty, openness and willingness are required.

• What are the things that you do that are causing trouble for you and for other people?

• What is the primary addiction from which you need to recover?

• How old were you when you began the behaviors that turned into your addictions? Explain.

• How have your addictive behaviors increased over time?

• In what ways have you violated your own ethical standards as a result of your addictive behaviors?

• Do you do things when you are alone that you would not do if you were with others? What are they? Explain.

• List your addictions and write about how they have caused you financial difficulty.

• How have you abused yourself with unhealthy eating habits?

• Have you ever been dishonest with a medical professional in order to get prescriptions that were not necessary?

• How has your career suffered as a result of your addictions?

• How and why have you lied to others about your use of time?

• How and why have you lied to others about your use of money?

• In what ways have you misused family resources for your addictions?

• In what ways have you neglected yourself physically, emotionally or spiritually because of your addictions?

• What are you putting off regarding your inventory?

Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery
By David Zailer and The Men and Women of Operation Integrity
Chapter Four Segment One
Copyright David Zailer, 2008
Operation Integrity
24040 Camino del Avion #A115
Monarch Beach CA 92629
1-800-762-0430
operationintegrity@cox.net

Monday, August 8, 2011

Desire

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


If you are tired from carrying heavy burdens, come to Me and I will give you rest. Take the yoke I give you. Put it on your shoulders and learn from Me. I am gentle and humble, and you will find rest. This yoke is easy to bear, and this burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30 CEV

”I am seeking, I am striving, I am in it with all my heart.”
-Vincent van Gogh

Desire

As we battled our addictions alone it seemed like we were always failing. The harder we tried to overcome them on our own, the more they stole life and dignity from us. Over time, our addictions even began to erode the greatest of our God-given dignities: the ability to make clear and correct personal choices for ourselves. Time and again, our addictive obsessions promised freedom but instead they gave us an ever- increasing load of guilt and shame. Burdened by guilt and shame, we often chose to follow our addictions where we fell, once again, deeper into addiction. But no more… things can change for us now. Today we stand at a crossroad. In one direction are the addictions that we’ve loved so much and to the other, lies a new kind of life where our addictions will no longer be the center of our world.

In Step One we admitted just how stuck we really were. Then it was in Step Two that we realized that our lives could change if we were willing to rely on a power that was greater than we were. The place where Step One and Step Two meet is a kind of spiritual intersection, an intersection of choice for our lives. With addiction in one direction and faith in A Higher Power in the other, the only thing left to be decided is which direction are we going to go. Do we want to live or die? This choice no one can take from us, or make for us. For you see, the real battle of recovery is won or lost in the battle of our will. Will we be self directed, which is where our addictions have taken hold of our lives, or will we be God directed and recover from our addictions? The battle for recovery is won or lost in the private places of our will where only we and God really know what is going on with us. It’s never in full view of the world. Even the empowering desire to recover that we are experiencing is a gift from God, who has already grabbed hold of us, compelling us to get alone with Him and surrender our lives to Him. Until we do this, we will lose every time.

Remember our friends from Scripture, Paul, Bartimaeus and Esperanza. All of them, at the point where their own sense of powerlessness intersected with their hope for healing, found within themselves the desire to put their faith in God who, through Jesus, had made himself available to them. Empowered by the desire for change they made the decision to trade in their powerlessness for the powerfulness that Jesus had displayed to them and to others. This was not a religious decision for them. We doubt that they even considered it as anything more than a desperate appeal for help, which is exactly what it was. After all, they really were not “doing” anything. They were simply making the only reasonable decision that could be made when everything else had failed. And the same is true for us too. In light of the combined desperation that we feel in Step One and the hopefulness we begin to experience in Step Two, the decision to surrender ourselves to God’s care becomes the most simple and sane thing we can do. Like our friends from the Scriptures, the record of our own addicted life will give us many good reasons to want to trade in our own powerlessness for the powerfulness that Jesus has displayed in the lives of people as historically recorded for the past 2,000 years.

If we want to recover, all we have to do is to decide in whom we are going to put our trust and confidence. Will we continue to trust only in our selves, or will we decide to put our life in God’s care? What we choose to do with our will is the single most significant and personal decision we will ever make. We are ultimately responsible for making the choice of what our lives will be like, what kind of people we will be and to whom we will belong. This decision can never be taken from us. We can no longer escape it. We are forever responsible for it. It’s a simple question really, one that we face everyday. Who will you trust? Who will you follow? Will it be your addiction or will it be God?

Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery
By David Zailer and The Men and Women of Operation Integrity
Chapter Three Segment One
Copyright David Zailer, 2008
Operation Integrity
24040 Camino del Avion #A115
Monarch Beach CA 92629
1-800-762-0430
operationintegrity@cox.net

Friday, August 5, 2011

Reaching Out for Healing

We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Jesus answered them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent." Luke 5:31,32 NLT

“Grace strikes us when we are in great pain and restlessness… . Sometimes at that moment a wave of light breaks into our darkness, and it is though a voice were saying: ‘You are accepted.’” -Paul Tillich

Reaching Out for Healing

It is not likely that anyone will visit a doctor when he is healthy. It’s only the weak and suffering who need a doctor’s care. In the past we have denied the sickness and suffering in our lives but in Step 1 we admitted our problems and we accepted the fact that we could not manage our lives on our own. After all, it’s been the pain from our addictions that’s motivated us to get help. Furthermore, we have to be honest with others if we really want to recover. We must honestly admit our problems in order to get the help that will help us to change. Only a crazy person would go to a doctor and then not be honest about what he really needed.

God is the Great Physician, the One who will ultimately heal us from our addictions. In Scripture we have a historical record of how God has healed the sick and suffering through the person and life of Jesus Christ. In Jesus, God never turned away from those in need. When people in pain came to God with their hopeful sincerity he always responded by healing them. Jesus, in giving God’s grace, not only cured the outer illnesses, He healed internal illnesses as well. The healing that Jesus offered to others helps us to understand that we are loved and accepted by God, and that his love and acceptance is available to us even before we knew that we needed it. As God heals us internally, spiritually we receive an empowerment that helps us to heal emotionally and psychologically. Spiritual health and psychological health go hand in hand. This hand in hand kind of health is the unifying, integrating work of grace.

Today God continues to work through human beings. Just as Jesus heals us for eternity, there are people who can help heal us in our day-to-day lives. In order for us to recover from our addictions, it is necessary for us to seek out and accept help from various God-given resources like medical doctors, mental health professionals and recovery support groups. These people and organizations are the most common ways that God help us recover from our addictions. They are to us on a day to day level what Jesus is to us on the eternal and spiritual level. As God through Jesus heals us internally, these people help us to see the acceptance of God and His love and healing become a reality in our lives every day. Remember, no one recovers alone.

Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery
By David Zailer and The Men and Women of Operation Integrity
Chapter Two Segment One
Copyright David Zailer, 2008
Operation Integrity
24040 Camino del Avion #A115
Monarch Beach CA 92629
1-800-762-0430
operationintegrity@cox.net

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Breaking Point

We admitted we were powerless over our addiction, that our life had become unmanageable.

What I don't understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can't be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God's command is necessary. But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can't keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don't have what it takes. I can will it, but I can't do it. I decide to do good, but I don't really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don't result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. Romans 7:15-20 The Message

“We perceive that only through utter defeat are we able to take our first steps toward liberation and strength. Our admissions of personal powerlessness finally turn out to be firm bedrock upon which happy and purposeful lives may be built.”-Alcoholics Anonymous Step 1 from the AA 12 & 12

Breaking Point

Addictions destroy people. They are a kind of self assault, a personalized form of self execution. Some addiction experts have called it “suicide on the installment plan.” Inevitably, we hurt ourselves with our addictions, usually without even realizing it. We bring destruction to our bodies, our relationships, our careers and we harm ourselves in unseen ways via the emotional and psychological self wounding which come from repeatedly doing the things that we know are not right to do. Perhaps the greatest harm done is the spiritual damage we suffer when we violate our own standards and ethics of conduct and morality.

Without help, addictions always progress as demonstrated by the ways we have increasingly violated our own sense of right and wrong. And, without help, we can lose to our addictions our own sense of identity, that is a realistic view of who we are and how our lives are being lived out. Even our own ability to make healthy choices can be stolen from us by our addictions. It’s not like we don’t know the difference between right and wrong, it’s just that addiction overwhelms us, robbing us of the power to consistently live well. It works out like this: We know what is right and we want to do right, but in the end we find that we have done the wrong thing and we usually have no reasonable explanation as to why we did the wrong thing and not the right thing, which is what we really wanted and intended to do. Looking back we’ve always known in our heart what was right and we never wanted to do what was wrong. Moreover we certainly never meant to become addicted to anything. However, in the light of honesty we will also remember how we’ve made repeated promises to ourselves, and others, only to break our promises many times over.

The Apostle Paul, who some call the greatest Christian who ever lived, offers us an insightful perspective that can be used as a sort of universal detection device for addictions. In Romans 7:15 Paul says, “What I don't understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise.” What the Apostle Paul tells us in Scripture can help us to understand that it is possible for anyone to suffer from an addiction and even the greatest among us, like the Apostle Paul, will only escape their powerlessness if they are willing to recognize it and admit it.

Amidst this difficult reality there is a bright spot. Admitting our powerlessness over our addiction is the end of our aloneness and the beginning of our recovery journey. But, unless we admit that we need help and we become willing to receive the help that is available to us, things will only get worse, they will never get better. Without help, addictions always get worse, never better.

Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery
By David Zailer and The Men and Women of Operation Integrity
Chapter One Segment 1
Copyright David Zailer, 2008
Operation Integrity
24040 Camino del Avion #A115
Monarch Beach CA 92629
1-800-762-0430
operationintegrity@cox.net

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Questions Remain

Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry the message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place. Psalm 51:6, NLT

"This inrush of God’s Holy Spirit heals us naturally – naturally. But it does far more than that. Indeed, as we pursue the spiritual life we lose sight of the physical benefits in our increasing vision of God Himself. We find after a while that we desire God more for His own sake than for ours."
- Agnes Sanford

Questions Remain

Matching up God’s grace with our willingness brings about a life-altering shift to our thinking, to our believing, and to the way that we see ourselves and the world around us. As a result of this shift, we have experienced changes in how we spend our time, our talents and our money. We have also seen changes in the way we eat and the way we work in our careers. Most of all, healthy changes are reflected in our relationships. We have become and continue to become the most blessed of all people. We are free to share God’s love with others in whatever ways are appropriate.

And it does not stop there. We are responsible for being good stewards of the life that God is building in us. We need to challenge ourselves by facing some tough questions so that we can keep moving away from our addictions and toward a fuller, more intimate relationship with God.

Here are some of the questions that keep coming back to us again and again…
What is God saying to me today?
What are the things that I am powerless over?
How is my life unmanageable?
What do I need to admit?
What actions do I need to take?

In the past, we avoided questions like these. We had been afraid of what the answers might reveal about us. But now, fear no longer has to hold us back. We see how difficult questions like these keep us moving forward to a life that is increasingly more honest and worth living. And after all, isn’t that what we were looking for all along?

Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery
By David Zailer and The Men and Women of Operation Integrity
Chapter Twelve Segment Seven
Copyright David Zailer, 2008
Operation Integrity
24040 Camino del Avion #A115
Monarch Beach CA 92629
1-800-762-0430
operationintegrity@cox.net

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

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.

Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery
By David Zailer and The Men and Women of Operation Integrity
Chapter Eleven Segment Seven
Copyright David Zailer, 2008
Operation integrity
24040 Camino del Avion #A115
Monarch Beach CA 92629
1-800-762-0430
operationintegrity@cox.net

Monday, August 1, 2011

A Deeper Point of View

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

Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it's important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him. Romans 12:3, The Message

“God asks no man whether he will accept life. This is not the choice. You must take it. The only question is how.”
- Henry Ward Beecher

A Deeper Point of View

Being sober from our addictions is a wonderful thing. It is what we wanted when we first started this recovery journey of ours. But, as God leads us through all the puddles, lakes, and oceans of life, He will invariably lead us into new and uncharted waters. Shallow waters are for children. Let us continue to grow, let us reach out and swim for the deep waters.

What do we think when we think about ourselves?

What are the things that we value the most?

How is our identity shaped by the things we value?

Do our possessions and priorities keep us from experiencing God’s deeper fellowship?

Do our relationships keep us from relating to God at the most intimate level?

What personal qualities do we have that we know we should change?

How do we rely on our talents to make us acceptable to people and to God?

What do we want that conflicts with God’s ideal for our lives?

Are there interests in our lives that are questionable or inappropriate?

Do we use our ministry, or our service to others as a way of expressing our goodness?

Why do we feel the need to prove our goodness?

Are we more devoted to what we think we should be than we are devoted to what God is making us into?

Questions like these help us to look beyond our addictions and gain a deeper view into our internal character. The more we are willing to let go and change, the more we will experience God’s power changing us on the inside. As we are willing to let go of our subtle idolatries, our perceptions about them will change and our interest in them will disappear. We will discover that the discouragement and the disillusionment that we feel from time to time are not really bad things. They can actually be good for us because they reveal how we have loved ourselves and our lives, or even our own devotion to Jesus, more than we have loved Jesus Himself.

God’s promise of new life is a promise of Himself and the Life that He is. The only eternal promise that He makes is that we will have Him forever. In the end only He will remain. Everything else will pass away. As we learn to be content with Jesus and Jesus alone, we will receive increasing joy amidst the discouragement and sadness that comes our way.

Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery
By David Zailer and The Men and Women of Operation Integrity
Chapter Ten Segment Seven
Copyright David Zailer, 2008
Operation Integrity
24040 Camino del Avion #A115
Monarch Beach CA 92629
1-800-762-0430
operationintegrity@cox.net