Friday, September 16, 2011

Humbly Asking

We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.


God’s kingdom is like a treasure hidden in a field for years and then accidentally found by a trespasser. The finder is ecstatic – what a find! – and proceeds to sell everything he owns to raise money and buy that field.
Matthew 13:44, The Message


“So in terms of what every man needs most crucially, all man’s power is powerless because at its roots, of course, the deepest longing of the human soul is the longing for God, and this no man has the power to satisfy.”
- Frederick Buechner, The Magnificent Defeat

Humbly Asking

How many times have we asked God to give us patience only to get mad with ourselves or God when “patience” didn’t show up when we wanted it? Perhaps we really weren’t interested in being more patient. Maybe, what we really wanted was relief from the tension and discomfort that we were feeling at that time. With what we are learning now, we will probably find it to be much more helpful to simply admit to ourselves, to God and to another person that we are impatient by nature and that we want to change. We want to learn to think and to act differently - patiently. This is real world humility. This kind of openness helps us to have a more natural willingness to ask others for direction and then to responsibly follow whatever good advice we get.

Saying, “Dear God, I want to be more patient” sounds good, but we may miss the subtle demand that we are making, holding God responsible for our impatient character and problems. But when we say “Dear God, “I am an impatient person,” we offer the truth about ourselves and we accept responsibility for being impatient. Humbly asking is asking for changes to our character and thinking with no demand for changes in the external circumstances of our lives.

The ultimate purpose of all prayer is to get hold of God. To do so we have to let go of our pride, inviting God to act according to His purpose in our lives. Changes in our circumstances are optional; changes in our character are necessary. We become the changes we desire. God will be our strength and He will empower us to do what we are responsible to do.

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

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Becoming Ready

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

When the Lord saw that he had caught Moses’ attention, God called to him from the bush, “Moses! Moses!” Here I am!” Moses replied.”
Exodus 3:4


"Since most of us are born with an abundance of natural desires, it isn’t strange that we often let these far exceed their intended purpose. When they drive us blindly, or we willfully demand that they supply us with more satisfactions or pleasures that are possible or due us, that is the point at which we depart from the degree of perfection that God wishes for us here on earth. That is the measure of our character defects or if you wish, of our sins."
- Alcoholics Anonymous

Becoming Ready

The way that God deals with us on a personal level will be as unique as we are as individuals and as mysterious as God is himself. While we all share common ground with one another, we will all have some very specific and unique experiences that will prepare us for the life that God has planned for us. What God uses to get hold of one person may not work for another. No matter how it happens, each of us will be led, if not already there, into a wilderness experience. Our hopes will be lost and our dreams will be destroyed. We will be reduced to the helpless and dependent state of a child. As painful and difficult as this may sound, this is all good news because it is only in a childlike experience of dependency that we are made ready to receive the best that God has to give us.

Our friend Moses, from the Scriptures, is one example of how God pulled someone into a life changing encounter with himself. As a young man, Moses had a difficult time staying out of trouble. Conflict seemed to follow him wherever he went. He seemed to be at his best and at his worst when he was responding to the people and the circumstances around him. Moses had a strong desire to change the things that he thought were wrong, but very often his best intentions, combined with his misguided reactions, made things worse. Moses used his God-given talents in ways that were both bad and good. Moses was, in himself, conflicted, just like we are.

The story of Moses’ life is told in the biblical books of Exodus and Deuteronomy. These books paint a colorful picture of a man who had all the best intentions, and at the same time they also show us a man who had a painfully difficult time putting his good intentions into healthy and productive action. Moses’ character defects often blocked the good outcomes that he intended. We need to read the biblical record in order to see the complete picture of Moses’ life, but here are a few low and high points of interest that will help us to see how God worked to change Moses’ thinking, which in turn changed Moses’ way of living.

Born an Israelite and separated from his parents as an infant, Moses was raised by the daughter of the king of Egypt. He was educated by the best that the culture of his day had to offer. One day as a young man, seeing one of his Hebrew countrymen being beaten, Moses went to his countryman’s aid and killed an Egyptian citizen. Later, when Moses was confronted about the killing, he fled into the wilderness in order to escape prosecution for the murder that he committed. There, in the wilderness, he married and started a family, and he lived in obscurity. In his running away, Moses abandoned himself to the wilderness. He abandoned his lost hopes and his broken dreams. But, God did not abandon Moses. After many years, the king of Egypt died. Moses, who was now tending sheep for his father-in-law, had given up and maybe forgotten all about his grandiose ideas of heroic escapades. But God had not forgotten, and God had certainly not given up on Moses. God was at work deep in Moses’ heart and mind during this time of obscurity. God was preparing Moses for the future that He had in mind for him. When God’s work of preparation was fulfilled, He reached out and made contact with Moses in the form of the burning bush. When God spoke, Moses, having been made ready in ways that Moses was not even aware of, answered back to God. Then, because he was ready and willing, Moses set out to become all that God had prepared him to be. As a result of God’s work of preparation, coupled with Moses’ humble willingness to change, Moses returned to Egypt where he led his Israelite brothers and sisters out of a captivity they had suffered for over 400 years. (Please read Exodus Chapter 3 for a more detailed account of how all this happened.) Like Moses, we all have spent years living in obscurity and pain, as proven by our addictions. We never meant to end up the way we were, but we did. We never intended to get sidetracked, but we did. Our addictions prove how we had given up on ourselves, how we had lost our hopes and our dreams. But, and here is the good news, God has not given up on us. He is at work. He is sustaining our lives and He is waiting for us to be ready to have the defects in our character removed from us.

Our good intentions and our character defects are like two sides of the same coin. They live together, side by side, until we become entirely ready to have the character defects that corrupt our good intentions removed from us. This means that we are ready to be made into fundamentally different kind of people. Staying the same will no longer be acceptable to us. We want to be different in order to move on and experience the life that God has to give us.

Feeling dissatisfied with who we are creates a deep desire for change. Dissatisfaction and desire go hand-in-hand much like our good intentions and our character defects. The kind of dissatisfaction that leads to desire for change makes us intentional about our recovery. It motivates us to take action. The desire that we feel for change is a gift from God. It is a quality that is unique to the human experience. It reveals the redeemable condition of our heart. Godly dissatisfaction and the desire to change create a vision for how we will live, not only recovering from our addictions, but as men and women who are truly free. Godly desire is about becoming ready to have the entire panorama of our inner life reformatted and changed by the perfect design of God. Godly desire makes us ready to set aside our own demands for personal satisfaction. It makes us ready to be the kind of people who love other people in ways that only God makes possible. Our old nature will dry up and it will begin to fall away. We will bloom from the inside out. We will realize that we are prepared, or maybe it is better to say that we are being prepared, to live life in a way that only God can give. Just like our friend, Moses.

The story of Moses’ life is a wonderful example of how God makes good use of our failures. It is safe to say that Moses was better prepared by God during the time that he spent living in obscurity than in any way that Moses could have ever prepared himself. Just like with Moses, God is doing His most intimate work inside of us during the times when we feel the most broken and hopeless. It is during times of difficulty and failure that God whittles away at our ego and prepares our character to become more like His own. We can’t always see or feel this most intimate work of God, but its reality is proven through our own willingness -- the willingness to change that we now have but did not have before. Nothing is ever wasted if we are willing to give it to God. The more God rules our minds and our hearts, the more our failures and addictions will become assets to us and to those around us.

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

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Becoming Our Friend

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

If we claim that we’re free of sin, we’re only fooling ourselves. A claim like that is errant nonsense. On the other hand, if we admit our sins – make a clean break of them – he won’t let us down, he’ll be true to himself. He’ll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing. If we claim that we've never sinned, we out-and-out contradict God --make a liar out of him. A claim like that only shows off our ignorance of God.
I John 1:8-10 The Message


“Tell the truth. It will confound your enemies and astound your friends.”
- Mark Twain

Becoming our Friend

Jerry does a great job of telling us what it was like for him to get honest and admit what he was really thinking and feeling on the inside. As he became honest with himself, he was better able to get honest with God as well as those who were close to him. Jerry discovered that self-honesty was required for his good intentions to become reality. This simple principle holds true for all of us.

Trust, is a byproduct of honesty. It is essential for all healthy relationships, whether it’s a relationship with someone else or our relationship with ourselves. We all have people in our lives that we don’t trust because they have not been honest with us. When we can’t trust someone, we can’t feel at peace with them, comfortable with them or have a real friendship with them. It’s the same way with ourselves. When we are dishonest with ourselves we won’t feel comfortable, and we won’t be able to be at peace with ourselves. This is why we so often resort to some kind of mood- or mind-altering experience. Knowing this helps us to better understand how our addictions have become entrenched inside of us. We will also better understand why we have felt lonely and isolated for so much of our lives.

In the past, we’ve seen ourselves through a lens of deception and secrets. Now, we throw off the blinders so that we can see ourselves more realistically. By admitting the truth about ourselves to ourselves we become better integrated with the reality of life. The holes inside of us get plugged up and the bleeding stops. The broken pieces of our hearts and minds start to find their right places again. We become ready to receive God’s compassion and care, which will take root in the very places where our personal deceptions have lived. This blows the lid off the box that our addictions have placed us in. Our identity, that we were made in the image of God, finds new life as we become connected with God in this way.

We become the most blessed of all people when we get honest with God and ourselves. We go from being our own worst enemy to being one of our most intimate friends. In purging the dishonesty from our lives, we purge the things that have been destroying us. We will see our future will be good, irrespective of the difficulties that come our way. Our days will be brighter, the sun will be warmer, the breezes of life will be cooler and fresher. We will find that life that is well worth living.

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

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Who's to Blame

We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

People may be pure in their own eyes, but the LORD examines their motives.
Proverbs 16:2 NLT


“Whatever games are played with us, we must play no games with ourselves, but deal in our privacy with the last honesty and truth.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Who’s to Blame?

Life is hard. Troubles come at us from every direction. Sometimes our troubles appear to be so big that it feels as if life itself is conspiring against us, keeping us from succeeding in the most important areas of our lives.

Perhaps more than most, people who struggle with addiction know what it’s like to feel as if God and the whole world are against them. Sometimes, we can even get a strange and sick kind of satisfaction from feeling this way. Succumbing to self-pity is an unhealthy way of trying to escape the reality of how we have lived irresponsibly. This is because when we are under the influence of self-pity, we alter the way we feel, all in a delusional attempt to sidestep the deep interpersonal convictions of truth that we do not want to face. Usually we won’t directly tell others about the perceived injustices that we think that God, and life, have imposed on us. It’s more likely that we’ll just go through our days with a negative disposition, politely mentioning the undeserved troubles that we have. It is common to blame God for things that are not his fault, and as part of our Step Four inventory, we need to understand how we have blamed God for our troubles in the past. We need to get honest about this. Everyone blames God for something, and we certainly are no exception.

We know that God is all powerful but at the same time it is critical that we understand that He is not all controlling. God creates people, not robots. He creates us with the dignity and the ability to make choices. Then the choices that we make impact our life and the lives of others. The effects of some choices will be good and others will be not so good. The choices that people make, and their effects, are not God’s responsibility. The relevant question for us is this: How can we cooperate with God in such a way that the bad things that have happened to us in the past can become things that are good for us today and in the future? For you see, in the past we have been our own worst enemy. In using self-pity and self-delusion, we have conspired against ourselves. In the past we would rather blame someone else for our troubles than to change ourselves and the way we live. We’ve hurt ourselves in ways that no one else could ever do. Remember, after all, that addiction is a self-assault.

Seeing things from God’s point of view, we’ll begin to recognize that God’s plan for our lives is a kind of conspiracy, too. It is the conspiracy of grace and love. Scripture reveals how God has planned and intended, conspired that is, to bring all people into a relationship with Him. This is the greatest conspiracy of all time. The only one that will succeed, forever. It is ongoing. No one can stop it or defeat it. In the end, no one will doubt that God’s love will rule. For us, the only thing in doubt is whether we are ready and willing to act in a manner that will help us experience God’s love in the here and now.

As we work through this section of questions, let’s look at how we have inhibited God’s love in our lives. We all have blamed God for things that were not his fault. He knows it and He is not holding it against us today. This is our chance to get in better touch with our inner reality and in so doing we’ll get in touch with God in a more honest and realistic way.
Let’s Get Real

•What difficulties do you have that cause you to blame God?
•How have you expressed unwarranted pride and anger when people and the world did not cooperate with your plans?
•How have you tried to manipulate your feelings through self-pity?
•How and when and with whom do you feel excluded and deprived?
•When did you first think that you may have an addiction?
•Who hurt you? Was it parents, other family members, people from church or school, neighbor, enemy, friend?
•How have you blamed God for the hurt that others have done to you?
•How have you violated or objectified others sexually, personally or socially?
•How have you defied your spiritual convictions as a result of your addictions?
•Who is the target of your jealousy and why?
•How have you been greedy?
•How has your addiction affected your relationship with God?
•How have you been determined to get your own way?
•How have you confused God with church?
•How have you confused religious activity with an intimate relationship with God?
•When and why do you feel self-pity?
•What do you feel guilty about?
•Why do you lie?


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

Monday, September 12, 2011

Turning Over Our Will

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

With all your heart you must trust the LORD and not your own judgment. Always let him lead you, and he will clear the road for you to follow.
Proverbs 3:5-6 CEV


“We deify our independence and self-will and call them by the wrong name. What God sees as stubborn weakness, we call strength.”
- Oswald Chambers

Turning Over Our Will

Everyone is addicted to something. While some things are more addictive to some people than others, the potential is always there for all of us. This is because of the bio-chemical connections that happen in our brain and our bodies. In fact, we can potentially become addicted to things that are not even thought of as addicting because addiction really has more to do with the insides of us, than it has to do with things that are outside of us. For example, let’s say that we have become addicted to jelly beans. Now we all know that jelly beans are not generally considered as addictive, but, nonetheless, it is possible that we may be so profoundly affected by our love of jelly beans that we begin to think and feel, at least to some degree in our psyche, that we “need” jelly beans. Being addicted to the jelly beans, means that we’ve come to believe that they are necessary for us. We think that we need them to in order to be happy and to maintain what we think is normal for us. This is the way that addiction corrupts our priorities, misplacing other things that are truly more important.

Just like with jelly beans, we can potentially become addicted to any person, to any place and to anything. The addictions we’ve struggled with have embedded themselves into our priorities and our intentions and in doing so they’ve hijacked our desires. When we add up the sum total of our priorities, our intentions and our desire: it equals our will. This means that ultimately we get addicted in our will.

The will is best described as what we intend on doing and what we plan to do. Perhaps we can best understand the term “will” if we think of it as our focused desire, our commitment to pursue, the giving of our attention, what we most deeply desire. Our will is what we want, what we pursue, with what and how we devote our attention. It’s what we are committed to doing. It’s what we really want. It connects us to everything we hope and dream for. It’s connected to our personal history including family, career, love interests, even religion and politics. Our will reveals everything we really think and feel about ourselves, other people, and the world in which we live.

In the past we have lived by our own will-power. And, as our addictions prove, our self-determined willpower has entangled us, getting us attached to people, to places and to things in ways that are not healthy for us. If we become attached to people, to places or to things in ways where they become more important to us than God’s will, our willpower is weakened accordingly. The more we exert our willpower for our own self centered desires, the less effective it becomes. This is where the bondage of addiction gains its deadly toehold in our lives. Even though we often don’t realize it, the root of our addictions, and our sins, too, is pride. Willpower alone will never be enough. It must be empowered by God.

The antidote to our pride, and our addictions, is humility. Turning over our will to God’s care is the ultimate, and intimate, humility that only we can do for ourselves. What we are really doing is turning over every thought, every feeling, every desire, and every intention. We don’t try to change them ourselves, and we certainly don’t deny them. We just admit them and then turn them over to God. It doesn’t matter whether they are good or bad, we turn them over either way. As we turn over our will, even in the smallest of ways, our struggle with addiction begins to be, to the degree of our surrender, consecrated by God. As we turn over our will and our life to God, our personal will begins to be made holy.

Let us never forget that God is fully connected to everything we think and feel. He knows it all and He doesn’t turn away. In knowing all, He calls us home to health and recovery. This journey home begins with a letting go of our attachments, which is a way of allowing God to become fully involved in our thoughts and feelings. As we turn over our thoughts and feelings to God they begin to become transformed by God. The power of God’s grace flows into us most freely when we decide to align our will with God’s will. As we do this, God will become more important and we will become less important. This simple decision is the most powerful way that any human being can exert his or her will. It is our choice for our recovery. It’s evidence of the initial transformation of everything we are, beginning with what we want and hope for, our will.

Some of us prayed in this way…

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 Three Segment Three
Copyright David Zailer, 2008
Operation Integrity
24040 Camino del Avion #A115
Monarch Beach CA 92629
1-800-762-0430
operationintegrity@cox.net

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Power of Imperfect Faith

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

What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!
Mark 9:23,24 NLT


“When I was driven to my knees by alcohol, I was ready to ask for the gift of faith. And all was changed. Never again, my pains and problems notwithstanding, would I experience my former desolation. I saw the universe to be lighted by God’s love; I was alone no more.
-Bill Wilson founder of Alcoholics Anonymous

The Power of Imperfect Faith

Coming to believe that we can be restored to sanity is an expression of faith. Faith, which is often confused with religious tradition, is more of a trust and confidence than anything else. Faith is more personal than religious, although faith may be a part of one’s religious convictions. Whereas many of us have previously experienced religion as a controlling set of rules that masquerade as belief, faith is more of a fundamental confidence that leads to effective life giving action. Religion is doing things in an attempt to make ourselves right. Faith is believing that God is making us right and this leads us to doing what is right. This is not to say that faith doesn’t play a necessary role in religion because it does. Religious people of all kinds express their faith in ways that help keep them mentally and emotionally balanced. The ways that healthy people, religious or not, live out their faith are lessons that are essential for us to learn as recovering addicts.

Faith is a trust; a trust and confidence that can be known as a deep abiding conviction of the heart and the mind. A deep abiding conviction of faith is the foundation of a healthy and happy life. It integrates the heart and the mind. Faith that is real is the abiding belief that God can and will do for us in our recovery what we have been unable to do on our own, no matter how hard we tried. Faith is a reaching out, an opening of the mind and the heart to possibilities that we had ignored or opportunities that we had refused in the past. In faith we trust in God and we trust in the people that God brings into our lives who can help us in our recovery. In faith we come to believe that God will provide all that we need to recover and that our responsibility is to simply supply the honesty, the openness and the willingness to do the work of recovery. In faith, God provides everything that we need to recover. In faith we know that if He doesn’t provide something that we think we need, we accept that we don’t really need it after all.

Real faith is honest and in touch with reality. It never defies the facts. Our friend that we read about in Mark 9, verses 22 and 23, gives an honest expression of his heart and his mind. On the one hand he cries out desperately, hoping for help for his son and at the same time expressing the weakness of his faith. He seems to be torn but really he’s just being human. Jesus recognized that amidst his struggling expression of faith he was really expressing a faithful struggle of hope and belief. Jesus knows that our honest faith is never without doubt. From this story we can learn to have faith in God’s empathetic care. We can have faith that Jesus, who the Bible says is God in human form, understands what it means to be human. He understands the struggle of faith, the faithful struggle to believe that God will connect to our weak faith all the power and resources necessary to accomplish His healing love and care in our lives. Our friend in this story seems to understand this, and it is necessary for us to understand this as well.

In Step 2, we are putting our faith in God and not in ourselves, which would lead us back to our addictions. Nor is our faith in our own faith which is nothing more than wishful thinking and superstition. In Step 2 we just believe, as faithfully as we can, that God will come through for us. It’s really very simple. A weak faith that trusts in a loving and powerful God is more than sufficient to meet any of the demands that we will face in our recovery. And, as we struggle faithfully to believe in God’s care and love we can know from this Scriptural record that Jesus will carefully give us all that we need just as he did for our friend in the scripture. Our faith doesn’t need to be perfect because our faith is in God. He takes care of the rest.


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

Thursday, September 8, 2011

We Admitted

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

If you think you know it all, you're a fool for sure; real survivors learn wisdom from others. Proverbs 28:26 The Message

“When we have accepted the worst, we have nothing more to lose. And that automatically means – we have everything to gain.”
-Dale Carnegie

We Admitted

Everything that we do in a worthwhile recovery effort begins with “we.” We cannot allow ourselves to be alone if we hope to have a worthwhile recovery experience, because no one recovers from their addictions alone. We have to have help. While each of us will have a different story to tell, all of our stories end up pretty much the same way; addicted.

In our addictions, we become isolated by our secrets and by our shame. We feel guilty about the things we’ve done and we feel shameful about the secrets we’ve kept. We often feel like we are little more than a huge mistake that must be kept hidden from others at all costs.

In our efforts to combat our sense of aloneness, many of us have participated in various groups that were based on commitments of religion, social service, virtue, promise keeping, and faithfulness. We participated in these groups with full sincerity, always working with great diligence so we would not fail. We thought that if we could make ourselves to be of great importance we could solve our own internal pain. But we could not. Our best efforts were never good enough for us. No matter how much we excelled in our good works, our own sense of failure continued to grow. Whatever we did, no matter how good or worthwhile it was, it was never good enough. We thought we had to be perfect. It seemed to us that if we could get it right, whatever it was, then we could get ourselves right too. We always worked harder. To us, things were never good enough. We became perfectionists. Then, we would even find failure in our greatest achievements. Strange as it sounds, no matter what the successes we achieved, or the failures we experienced our addictions seemed to become ever more attractive. And, paradoxically, the harder we worked to overcome our addictions on our own the more our addictions ruled our lives.

Left with few, if any, viable opportunities for change we admitted we needed help. And, we took the first step in getting help by seeking out a recovery fellowship, a place where it was safe to admit that we were not in complete control of lives. Desperate, we admitted that we had been unable to overcome some very serious problems with our behavior and that our life was beyond our ability to manage. In making our admission we began to set aside our own ego-centered independence in order to seek out a connectedness and fellowship that could do for us what we had not been able to do for ourselves.

Alone we are dying, but together we can recover and live.

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

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A New Purpose for Our Lives

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.

But Jesus said, "No, go home to your friends, and tell them what wonderful things the Lord has done for you and how merciful he has been.”
Mark 5:19, NLT


“If you will agree with God’s purpose, He will bring not only your conscious level but also all the deeper levels of your life, which you yourself cannot reach, into perfect harmony."
- Oswald Chambers

A New Purpose for Our Lives

Pain and fear are often two of our greatest motivators. Pain grabs our attention and fear either paralyzes us or it shakes us into doing things that are usually destructive. This is how our impulsive attempts to avoid pain and fear that have deepened our addictions. But, thankfully, things have begun to change. Hope and humility give us the willingness to go through pain instead of escaping it, and the ability to address fear instead of running from it.

We become the kind of people who can face fear and endure pain when we see that a more intimate walk with God lies ahead for us. This intimacy with God that motivates us to keep moving forward and leave our addictions behind. God teaches us to not fear pain like we used to. He teaches us to handle fear in healthy ways. We learn to benefit from our pain and fear as we accept them as opportunities to exercise our faith in God. The strength of our faith is not the issue at hand, because walking with God is not a matter of how big or how small our faith is. If we have faith in God, in whatever amount, we have enough. Our faith, after all, is in Him, not in ourselves. This faithful thinking moves us to the place where our addictions just won’t make sense to us anymore. Our addictions never really helped us, you know; they only distracted us. We don’t want that old life anymore. So, why would ever want to go back to them again? We want God’s best now, and we are willing to do whatever it takes to have His best, even when it is painful and even when we feel afraid.

In the past, most of us have thought of ourselves as physical beings who were trying to have spiritual experiences, but now we think of ourselves as spiritual beings who are having physical experiences in ways that are uniquely designed for us, individually, by God. We will enjoy some of these experiences and not others. We will laugh sometimes and we will cry sometimes. No matter what the circumstances are, and no matter what emotions and feelings we have, things for us have become wonderfully simple. We are people who have suffered terrible addictions, but now we are people who enjoy God’s best today and everyday. We don’t judge our lives by our circumstances; we judge them by the freedom of our heart. For you see, through God’s grace coupled with our surrender, we become the most blessed of all people. We know this because God only judges us by the standard of His love and righteousness that’s been displayed through Christ. We, on the other hand, judge ourselves more harshly. We judge ourselves by our willingness or our unwillingness to respond to His love through our obedience.

Recognizing how blessed we are gives us gratitude for our addictions. A grateful heart helps us to look back and see our addictions as a kind of training ground. They have prepared us to become the kind of men and women who can share God’s grace with others in very dynamic ways. More than most, we embody the progressive prodigal experience of hopelessness, selfishness, disaster, desperation, whimpering cries for help, grace given, grace received and life resurrected. By God’s design, there is no better plan for us than what we have experienced. Our purpose in life going forward is to seek, discover and experience God as Jesus Christ knows God, and as we receive the benefits of knowing God, we will encourage others to seek, discover and experience God for themselves.

We are all prodigals in one way or another. And, understanding this is at the core of our transformation.

Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery
By David Zailer and The Men and Women of Operation Integrity
Chapter Twelve Segment Two
Copyright David Zailer, 2010
Operation Integrity
24040 Camino del Avion #A115
Monarch Beach CA 92629
1-800-762-0430
operationintegrity@cox.net

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Soul Yearnings


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.


Show me the path where I should walk, O Lord; point out the right road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you. Psalm 25:4-5, NLT

“In prayer, real prayer, we begin to think God’s thoughts after Him: to desire the things he desires, to love the things he loves, to will the things he wills. Progressively, we are taught to see things from his point of view.”
- Richard J. Foster, Celebration of Discipline

Soul Yearnings

Our sponsors, our mentors, spiritual directors and our counselors have helped us and will continue to help us grow in our recovery. While they help us, they are not the resource or the power that gives us growth. That is done by God’s Holy Spirit. As our “new man in Christ” grows within us, we will develop a personality and identity that is much more suited to what God created us to be than anything we could have hoped ourselves to be. This new identity is much more from the influence of God working deep within us than it is from what we have learned or observed from others. The examples that others have given us are very good, but we are called to something more personal and more unique to who we are as individuals. We must not confuse a teacher with The Teacher. Human teachers come and go, but God will never leave us and He will not forsake His commitment to work His best into every area of our lives.

Our joy in recovery will suffer if we don’t exhibit the humble diligence that leads to intimacy with God. The bigger our ego gets, the smaller God gets and, on the other hand, as God’s presence in our life grows, our ego will shrink correspondingly. Only after, and never without the intentional application of hard disciplined work, will we grow up. Growth will not remove our human imperfections, but it will enlarge us spiritually, molding us to be more like God intended us to be. We are responsible to be diligent in our pursuit of what God wants us to be. We are responsible for living out the miraculous purpose for which He created us.

One of the great things that will come out of our walk with God will be the stories that come from our life experience. When we share them, our life experiences will encourage others much like we have been encouraged by those who’ve shared theirs with us. For you see, God takes all the broken pieces of our lives and He creates something worthwhile for everyone. While the details of our stories will be different from one another, the fundamentals will be the same. In recovery, we all admit how our failures and our addictions proved how alone we had been. We accepted our need for God and then His love broke through to us. He reached into our aloneness and we reached back for Him. We had been like adulterous lovers, awkward and embarrassed, sneaking in the back door, not knowing what to say. But God made the first move to listen to us and get close to us and now, because we want to get close to Him too, we make the second move which is to pray.

Prayer takes us out of our aloneness.

Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery
By David Zailer and The Men and Women of Operation Integrity
Chapter Eleven 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, September 2, 2011

A Lifestyle of Vigilence

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

So let's not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don't give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith.
Galatians 6:9 -10, The Message


"If the Spirit of God detects anything in you that is wrong, He does not ask you to put it right; He asks you to accept the light, and He will put it right. A child of the light confesses instantly and stands bared before God; a child of the darkness says – “Oh, I can explain that away.” When once the light breaks and the conviction of wrong comes, be a child of the light, and confess, and God will deal with what is wrong; if you vindicate yourself, you prove yourself to be a child of the darkness."
- Oswald Chambers

A Lifestyle of Vigilance

We must never forget that we are powerless over our addictions and that our lives are beyond our ability to manage on our own. We also need to remember that we have come to believe that we can recover from our addictions because we have encountered other people who are recovering from their addictions. Then, wanting to survive our addictions and live, we made the decision to trust God with our lives the best we knew how, while at the same time we recognized that our trust in Him and our relationship with Him needed to include trusting the people that God brought along to help us.

As our trust in God and other people grows, we begin to admit to ourselves, to God and to certain trustworthy people who we really are, what we think about ourselves and how we feel about the world around us. We realize that we cannot get rid of our character defects on our own and that the only worthwhile thing to do is to ask God to remove our character defects from us. Then, as our character defects weaken over time, we become more aware of how we have hurt others in the past. By offering our apologies and assistance to those that we have hurt and by forgiving those who have hurt us, we accomplish something that no one else can ever do. No one can make our amends or our apologies for us. Doing this work ourselves is a very effective part of healing and integrating our hearts and our minds together as one.

The growth we experience motivates us to continue on. Maintaining a trusting relationship with God and, at the same time, considering other people as more important than we consider ourselves, helps insure that we will continue to grow away from our addictions. A lifestyle of obedience to God draws us, step by step, on a continuing journey where our faith is increased and our hopefulness is expanded. We begin to see a new character form within us and a new life take shape ahead of us. But we won’t stop now. We can’t stop now because there is no middle road in recovery. We continue to grow, or our addictions will begin to overtake us once again. It is critical that we recognize that even the most subtle of our thoughts and our feelings lead to action, in one way or the other, good or bad. We never just stay the same. Complacency puts us at risk of losing ourselves to our own addictions once again. So, it is critical that we know what is going on inside of us. We must be willing to surrender our counterfeit appearances, even at the most personal and fundamental level. Our future requires that we have an honest grasp of who we really are; it requires that we prefer God’s plan more than our own.

What benefit do we gain, or what good can we offer if we abandon our recovery incomplete?

Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery
By David Zailer and The Men and Women of Operation Integrity
Chapter Ten 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, September 1, 2011

Feeling and Doing

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

This is the kind of life you’ve been invited into, the kind of life Christ lived. He suffered everything that came his way so you would know that it could be done, and also know how to do it, step by step. He never did one thing wrong, Not once said anything amiss. They called him every name in the book and he said nothing back. I Peter 2:21–23, The Message

“It is not until we love a person in all his ugliness that we can make him beautiful, or ourselves either.”
- Frederick Buechner, The Magnificent Defeat, page 42

Feeling and Doing

Let’s be honest about the deep anger and resentment that we have held against some of the people to whom we owe amends. All of us have suffered to some degree because of the anger we have stored up on the inside. If we take a moment to honestly consider this, we will see that there is really no question that we have felt this way. Anger and resentment are some of the core feelings that drive our addictions. The only real relevant question now is, Can we – will we face our anger honestly, with integrity, and not let it stand in the way of our recovery?

Recovery and future growth will not allow us to sidestep our feelings. We have to be willing to confront the destructive feelings that we have felt for certain specific people (this may even include a group of people or a particular demographic) if we want to recover and make healthy changes to our relationships in the future. Feeling the way we feel does not excuse us from taking the important steps that we need to take in order to make amends to the people we have harmed. Feelings are feelings and nothing more. They are like lights on the dashboard of our lives. They tell us about important things that are going on under the hood but they are not intended to dictate the actions we take nor do they excuse our procrastinations.

There may be times when we realize that some of the people who are on our amends list have caused us harm and the wrongs they’ve done to us far exceed anything we’ve done to them. It is vitally important that we keep our focus here. The wrongs that other people have done to us are not our concern at this point in time. We need to make the decision to no longer hold their wrongs against them. After consulting with our advisors, let us contact these people and apologize to them for our inappropriate actions, offering to do whatever we can do to repair the damage we have caused. These particular people may have never acknowledged the hurt and pain they have caused us, and maybe they never will. Nevertheless, let us continue to forgive them everyday, not because they are innocent or because they deserve forgiveness, but because we need to do so in order to continue to recover from our addictions and to heal from the damage they did to us.

Occasionally feelings of anger and resentment will return. Because of this, we should diligently monitor our own thoughts and feelings and be willing to let go of any renewed anger that comes up. While we may not have a future relationship with these particular people, our attitude toward them, ourselves and others will be radically improved only to the degree that we are willing to forgive them and make amends to them. We can be honest about how things really were in our past relationships. We don’t need to make excuses for our friends, our families or for ourselves anymore. Things simply were the way they were and, today, they are the way they are. We can hope and even pray that someday things may change, that we can have a healthy and happy relationship with all people and that all people will recognize that our new life and values are worth appreciating. But, in order for us to continue to grow in God’s plan for our lives, we must remember that other people’s attitude toward us are none of our business. It is between them and God.

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