Friday, April 13, 2012

Turning Over Our Life

Turning Over Our Will
“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

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

Everyone is addicted to something. While some things are more addictive to some people than others, the potential is there for all of us because of the biochemical 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 has more to do with the inside 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 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. The sum total of our priorities, our intentions and our desires 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 willpower. 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
Copyright 2011, Homecoming Books


Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Power of Imperfect Faith

We Admitted

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

Copyright 2011, Homecoming Books

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

We Admitted

We Admitted

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

Copyright 2011, Homecoming Books

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A New Purpose For Our Lives

A New Purpose for Our Lives

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

Copyright 2011, Homecoming Books

Monday, April 9, 2012

Darnell's Story

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

Copyright 2011, Homecoming Books

Darnell's Story

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

Copyright 2011, Homecoming Books

Friday, April 6, 2012

A Lifestyle of Vigilence

A Lifestyle of Vigilance
“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

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

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 while at the same time considering other people as more important than 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?
Copyright 2011, David Zailer

Thursday, April 5, 2012

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.


Copyright 2011, David Zailer

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

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?


copyright 2011, David Zailer
http://www.amazon.com/Our-Journey-Home-Inspirations-ebook/dp/B005KW93L0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1318196236&sr=8-1

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Facing the Facts

Facing the Facts

“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

We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

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. 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 truth 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 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 admit the character defects that have been a part of our addictive thinking. An amazing empowerment from God comes with obedience.
As we progress in our recovery, our priorities and concerns will get reorganized. With a measure 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!
Copyright 2011, David Zailer

Monday, April 2, 2012

Ready and Listening

Ready and Listening

"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

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

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, yet most of the time we have not responded.
Being ready to change means that we will want to be, first and foremost, in a love-fulfilling relationship with God. 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. The man or woman who strains to hear the quiet and sometimes seemingly distant call of love and change is the one 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 routine 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 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.
Copyright 2011, David Zailer