Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Become Acquainted With Reality

“In working The Steps we become acquainted with the reality of our lives. With this comes a truer understanding of our addictions – they become like prophets that speak to us from the grave of our self-destructiveness. Not just that we are alcoholics, addicts, gamblers or porners, but more to the diverse and entangled disagreements of our heart and mind. To the extent we listen to them, our addictions can become the great teachers we have needed all along.”


~ David Zailer - Operation Integrity












Wednesday, May 21, 2014

POSSESSED BY GOD, from OUR JOURNEY HOME

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.



Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is most convenient for us. Strength is for service, not status. Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, ‘How can I help?’ Romans 15:1, The Message

“The great illusion of leadership is to think that man can be led out of the desert by someone who has never been there.”
- Henri Nouwen, The Wounded Healer

Possessed by God
Our new life should be considered a gift, but it is not without cost. It carries with it a responsibility that, if left unmet, proves that we do not really appreciate the opportunity we have been given. Since we have admitted how unmanageable our lives had become, we cannot honestly claim ownership of our lives anymore. Our addictions have owned us in the past, but in recovery our lives are given over to God. Our worthless and tattered lives have been bought through the death of God’s Son, Jesus. And, the opportunity we have for a new life has been assured through His resurrection. This is, in a nutshell, the very basis of our faith. And this is why God is free to care for us in whatever way He thinks is best.
As we become assured of God’s active redemption, we will increasingly receive the most life changing of all good gifts - the gift of gratitude. Gratitude nourishes all of our God-given desires. It makes every area of our life an act of worship and praise. Even our shortcomings give glory to God when we are grateful for them. With gratitude, we return to God a portion of the goodness that He continually gives to us. For we need to always remember that the gifts that He gives are not ours to own. They are not to be used for our benefit and prosperity. The gifts that God gives to us are only ours to hold, to appreciate and to pass along to others.
What started with Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith, two alcoholics helping each other, has resulted in a movement that today helps millions of people recover from alcoholism and drug addiction. Alcoholics Anonymous has also spawned the Al-Anon movement, which helps millions of co-dependents and families of alcoholics worldwide. Additionally, AA has inspired the development of numerous other Twelve Step programs that help countless numbers of people recover from many different forms of addiction. Just like Bill Wilson and Dr. Smith, our lives can be multiplied many, many times over when we are willing to share them with others. Once again, this is because God’s power is without limit. If we are willing to do our recovery work faithfully, we will become a gift to the whole world one moment, one situation, one person at a time.
The greatest needs of our day will not be met by counselors, by doctors or by experts, politicians or professionals. The greatest needs of our day will be met by recovering people like us. We are grateful leaders in pain suffered and humble leaders in recovery gained. We are men and women who, having fought the fight for our own lives, now, more importantly, are willing to join the fight for the lives of others. The greatest need in our world today remains the same as it has always been: godly men and women who display a quality of character and life that ignites in others a desire to know God in a way that changes them.
And, on top of it all, each of us has a special role to play. God has given each of us, individually, a message to share and a story to tell. Yes, we are called to tell our story. We are called to tell how we had been blind and desperate and lost in our addictions. And we are called to tell about how God answered us when we, having gotten to our wits end, humbly asked Him for help.
Everyone needs to know that their secrets, struggles, problems, addictions and sins do not need to keep them from God. They need to hear that Jesus has solved all of these problems as far as God is concerned. Our job is to simply share the basic facts of our life and how God has given us our recovery experience. We don’t have to go into great detail or feel any pressure to perform, either. God is responsible for the results, not us. And, the people with whom we share are responsible for what they do with whatever we share with them. We just have to share, that’s all.
So, let us get up and reach out. Let us extend a hand to anyone and everyone who is dead and dying in their secrets, their struggles, their problems, their addictions and their sins. Let us say, “Come with us, we are going to God. We are going to life.”
Everyone needs what we have been given.















THE PROBLEM & A SOLUTION, from WHEN LOST MEN COME HOME, NOT FOR MEN ONLY

THE PROBLEM


Addiction is a medical and clinical term referring to physiological and psychological dependencies that exhibit themselves in destructive behavioral patterns. In layman’s terms, addiction is a destructive relationship with any mood or mind altering substance or experience. It is a complex human phenomenon that is manifested in physical, psychological, sociological and spiritual ways. It has been called the most human of all diseases or conditions, and no one is immune.



Sexual addiction is one of the most misunderstood of all addictions. Simply stated, sexual addiction is the loss of control over destructive sexual behavior or relationship.Perhaps the most helpful definition is a practical one: sexual behavior that has a negative effect on one’s life. A "sex addict" is someone who utilizes their sexual experience(s) to alter their mood or state of mind in a way that is destructive to them and their relationships. Most often thought of as inappropriate sexual behavior, sexual addiction can also be present in those who have no apparent inappropriate behavior. Even married monogamous people can be addicted sexually if they depend on "appropriate" sex to maintain their sense of well-being. Sexuality is an essential part of human life. But, when a person uses sexuality as if it were a drug to medicate their mood, the healthy spectrum of the sexual experience is eroded and it becomes destructive, and addictive. In fact, sexual addiction is not really about sex at all, it is about intimacy. Sexual addiction is a common result when sexuality is substituted for healthy intimacy.




To be alive is to be addicted, and to be alive
and addicted is to stand in need of grace.

Gerald G. May MD, Addiction & Grace






A SOLUTION


The vision of Operation Integrity is to help people recover from addiction, leading to radical life transformation. We accomplish this by educating people about addiction, helping people become part of a community that supports recovery and growth, encouraging spiritual growth through a personal Twelve Step program along with counseling and/or therapy, and Spiritual Formation leading to an ever-deepening relationship with God. We propose that the following five components be part of a person’s life — minimum of three to five years.


 Meet personally with a qualified therapist or counselor as often as possible and as guided by the counselor. Involve one’s family in therapy as suggested by counselor.



 Be involved in a Christ-centered Twelve Step Recovery Group. This includes attending meetings like Operation Integrity and other addiction specific support fellowships.



 Be involved in Twelve Step process at a personal level. This includes getting a sponsor and following their guidance, thoughtfully and devotionally reading recovery material like When Lost Men Come Home and other related literature.





 Encourage family involvement through Counseling, Al-Anon, Co-Dependents Anonymous, or similar Twelve Step support fellowship for spouses and loved ones.



 Address underlying triggers. Underlying causes may be an excessive need for affirmation, family of origin issues, childhood abuse or abandonment, unhealed grief, deep feelings of inferiority or superiority, an unhealthy view of God which may even exist in those who have religious training and church experience. Other causes may include other addictions like overeating, alcohol and other drugs, gambling, unhealthy relationships, religious activity and others.



It has been the Operation Integrity experience, that people who follow these suggestions with diligence and sincerity have a successful recovery experience.




This is an excerpt from WHEN LOST MEN COME HOME, not for men only 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Is Your Addiction A Prophet?

“In working The Steps we become acquainted with the reality of our lives. With this comes a truer understanding of our addictions – they become like prophets that speak to us from the grave of our self-destructiveness. Not just that we are alcoholics, addicts, gamblers or porners, but more to the diverse and entangled disagreements of our heart and mind. To the extent we listen to them, our addictions can become the great teachers we have needed all along.”
David Zailer
Operation Integrity

Thursday, May 15, 2014

PRAYER CHANGES US, from OUR JOURNEY HOME

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.


And yet the reason you don’t have what you want is that you don’t ask God for it. And even when you do ask, you don’t get it because your motive is wrong – you want only what will give you pleasure.
James 4:3, NLT


“Drawing near to God is, in fact, the beginning of union!”
- Madame Jeanne Guyon, Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ


Prayer Changes Us


Prayer is the most relevant thing we do.If we are to be free from our addictions, free from our compulsions and free from self tyranny, we will have to become people who pray consistently, without stopping. Prayer must become part of us much like eating or breathing, bathing and sleeping. The kind of prayer we need is a personal, open and ongoing interaction with God - the type of interaction that brings insight and understanding, helping us to resolve the catastrophes of our past and increase our hopefulness for the future. Ongoing prayer helps us know exactly who we are and what we should do at any moment in time. It builds integrity in us, making us well-balanced and whole. Prayer keeps us alert and ready to live well during any difficulty that may come our way.


Prayer helps us to work with God to build our future. It plays a huge role in determining what kind of people we will be and what kind of impact we will have on the world. It may be helpful to pray for others to change, but it is always more important to pray that we will change. Prayer changes us and as we are changed, the influence we have on our surroundings will change too. Prayer gives us new perspectives. It changes our priorities. Instead of praying for things we want or for things we need, we should pray that we will be increasingly motivated to bring ourselves closer to God.


If we pray for anything less than God Himself, we may go away disappointed, having learned just how idolatrous we still are. But when we pray seeking a closer walk with Him we will always find our deepest longings fulfilled, often before we know what our deepest longings really are.










FINAL QUESTIONS, from WHEN LOST MEN COME HOME, NOT FOR MEN ONLY

FINAL QUESTIONS

My recovery experience has changed the way I spend my time, my talents and my money, as well as changed the foods I eat and the way I conduct my career. Most of all, my recovery is best reflected in the positive changes in my relationships. I know my life is no longer my own. I have become, and I continue to become, the most blessed of all men. I am now much better able to share myself freely with others in rich, personal and even intimate soul-enriching ways. But there is still more personal recovery work for me to do. I continue moving forward, ready and willing to face tough questions so I may continue to recover and gain a fuller, more intimate relationship with God and the empowered life that only He can give.


Here are some of the questions I keep coming back to again and again…


What is God saying to me?

What is it that I am powerless over?


How is my life unmanageable?


What do I need to admit?


What am I going to do now?


What are the tough questions you need to ask yourself? Before, you and I avoided these kinds of questions as we hid out in the darkness of our addictions. We were afraid of the answers the questions might reveal. But now we know God gives us courage, which enables us to face difficult questions like these. We have learned they are a blessing because they keep us moving forward, leading us to a meaningful life that makes sense and is worth living well regardless of pain or suffering we may encounter. And after all, isn’t that what we were looking for all along?

This is an excerpt from WHEN LOST MEN COME HOME, not for men only