Tuesday, September 30, 2014

KEEP MAKING THE CHOICE - 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.


We want to live well, but our foremost efforts should be to help others live well.
I Corinthians 10:24, The Message


For He claims all, because He is love and must bless. He cannot bless us unless He has us. When we try to keep within us an area that is our own, we try to keep an area of death. Therefore, in love, He claims all. There’s no bargaining with Him.
- C. S. Lewis


Keep Making the Choice


If we ever think that our healing is primarily for our benefit, the selfishness of our thinking reveals just how little we have been healed. On the other hand, when we believe that our healing is to be lived out for the benefit of others, our lives will bear witness to how we have been healed already. In either case, there is just one remaining question and it will never change. We will face it day in and day out, minute by minute, with every breath we take. The question is, Who owns us? Will we live for God and others or will we die in addiction and shame? The answer we give to this question will determine what kind of people we will be and how we will live out our lives.


How we answer this question is not the end of our responsibility; it’s just the beginning. All too often, we tend to compartmentalize our lives, and judge ourselves wrongly because we use the wrong criteria to evaluate and measure ourselves. We assume that we are doing well because parts of our life are in good order, while we ignore other areas of our life that are all messed up. Or, we judge ourselves too harshly because of one mistake, when in reality there is significant progress that we don’t see. Compartmentalizing and judging ourselves in this way is like determining the winner of a baseball game after just the first or second inning. It’s like judging a painting before the artist has completed his work. We need to always remember that God is the only perfect judge. God does not judge us by the pieces or compartments of our lives, and we shouldn’t judge ourselves that way either. He recognizes that the whole package of our lives, beginning with the condition of our hearts, is what really counts. He never looks down on us with a red pen and a grade book in hand. He judges us according to the love and righteousness of Christ. So, we should embrace His grace by measuring ourselves by our willingness to follow and obey Him. And even when we fall short and sin, we are not without God’s grace. Above all, God wants us to know that we are not worthless or hopeless, even when we are at our worst.


God’s grace through Christ gives us the power to recover from our addictions and to walk humbly with God, but it does not make us completely immune to sin or our addictions. We should never think that we are in full control of our lives because, if we go our own way, placing our confidence in ourselves, we become susceptible to relapse and the dire consequences that inevitably follow. If and when we hold even one thing back, we have not really given Him our lives. This doesn’t mean that walking with God is an all or nothing thing, because it isn’t. Walking with God is progressive. Walking with God is a growth in which we expand and enlarge our acceptance and expression of the grace that He has already given us.


All this is to say that no matter how well or how poorly we have surrendered our lives to God, there is still more to be offered up. Surrender is never relevant in the past tense, but it is always relevant in the here and now. We have to be willing to give the whole of our lives to God, all the good and all the bad, the best that we possibly can, or our life as a whole will not belong to Him at all.


http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Our+Journey+home%2C+David+Zailer&x=20&y=28
Our Journey home - Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery
By David Zailer
Copyright 2011, Homecoming Books

HOPELESSNESS TO HOPEFULNESS - from WHEN LOST MEN COME HOME, NOT FOR MEN ONLY

MOVING FROM HOPELESSNESS TO HOPEFULNESS


Almost every day, I found comfort within the fellowship of other recovering sex addicts, receiving support from those who’ve been wounded by life, then suffered and survived their own addictions. When I experienced the heartbreak of failure, they guided me from their own experience, helping me to feel a sense of hopefulness for my future and not the hopelessness I had felt in the past. They would tell me they felt themselves being strengthened every time they helped me. They would even thank me for calling them and asking for their help. In a real recovering fellowship, the weak get stronger and the strong get stronger by helping the weak. I experienced true faith for the first time in this way. It came to me before I knew it was even there.


Faith, as we experience it in Operation Integrity, is characterized by a hope-filled belief that compels us to take effective action. By understanding faith in this way, it becomes authenticated, making it an antidote for and the antithesis of addiction. Addiction kills our dreams, but faith gives hope for life.


Like a gift, the simple hope for life gave birth to a personal open-mindedness I had never experienced before. It appeared quiet and close, even before I asked for it, coming from outside of me, but working within. By seeing the changed lives of others I came to believe that I too could join them in freedom. My lifelong hopelessness had changed to hopefulness.



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








Tuesday, September 23, 2014

BE STILL, BE QUIET, LISTEN!, 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.



Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst—not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life. John 4:14, The Message



For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.
Psalm 107:9, NLT






"Let therefore our chiefest endeavor be, to meditate upon the life of Christ."
- Thomas a Kempis



Be Still, Be Quiet, Listen



Relationships are a two-way street. We need to share what we think and feel with others and we need to be good listeners, too, if we want successful relationships with those we care about. Our relationship with God is no different. He listens to what we say and we need to listen for what He has to say to us.



Meditation is a practice that is committed to hearing God’s voice and understanding the directions He gives us. We have worked very hard in our recovery, but meditation will be different from the work we have done so far. This is because meditation is not about doing anything; it is about quietness of mind, relaxation of body and openness of heart.



Meditation is the flip side of prayer. It completes the dialogue that takes place between God and us. We speak when we pray, but we listen when we meditate. In fact, prayer without listening to God is probably not healthy for us. Our prayers become very self-centered if we don’t listen to what God has to say. Very often the best thing we can do for our spiritual growth is to stop. Stop working. Stop playing. Stop everything. Be still. Be quiet. Listen. We should set all our distractions aside so we can make time and space in our minds and our hearts for God alone, so we can listen for how He comes close to us in the time and space we create for Him. As we do this, He will reorganize our wants and our worries in ways that are healthier for us and more useful for His purposes. God speaks to us not because of our special abilities, but because we are listening, wanting to hear what He has to say to us. Actually, He is always speaking to us. But it’s only when we listen that our ears will tune into what He is saying.



Learning to listen to God is simple but, just like learning other things, it takes some practice. We learn to meditate by meditating. We start, get distracted, start again, get distracted and then start again. With time we learn to become more capable of hearing and discerning the voice of God. This is not effort like most of us think about effort because it takes nothing from us. We just open ourselves up like we would open our hand to accept a gift. It’s like going outside when it’s raining if we want to get wet. It is the simplest of all things we do. It’s like enjoying music which requires no physical effort on our part. Listening requires only the intention and desire to accept the sound that someone else makes. It’s natural; like a mother’s intuitive ear that is tuned to the slightest sound her sleeping child makes. Meditation - listening for the sound of God - is a filling of our heart and mind with God’s heart and mind. It gives us a deepening friendship with Jesus because Jesus appreciates us listening to Him like any friend of ours would appreciate it when we listen to them. And as we listen – meditate that is – we can expect God to speak to us at the spiritual level.



Our imaginations will run freely as we meditate, like a child’s does. This is a good thing because God gives us imagination for a purpose and while our addictions deaden our capacity for creative thinking, meditation enlarges our capacity for creativity. Listening for God opens us up to the wonderful world of possibilities and goal setting. We will believe all sorts of wonderful ways that God will reveal Himself to us, change us, restore us and use us. But there is one thing we must never lose sight of. God has no obligation to serve us. He has committed Himself to love and care for us eternally, but He is not obligated in anyway to give us everything we think we should have. We must not allow meditation to become a breeding ground for selfishness and self-centeredness, which are most dangerous when they take on a religious tone. Guard against self-deception. If we are serious about walking with God, we will prefer obedience over comfort and blessing.



The discipline of meditation helps to balance our minds and our emotions and the best way to make the most of our commitment to this discipline is to meditate on Scripture. God gives us His Word to help us build a well-balanced point of view. The Bible is the most obvious and consistent way that He speaks to us. It is the grounding rod of everything we do in our walk with God. Making Scripture a daily part of our lives keeps our disciplines of prayer and meditation centered on God and His will for our lives. Without a consistent dose of Scripture we will never have a strong walk with God. And, no matter how much we study the Bible, our disciplines will be ineffective if we do not have the foundation of deep personal humility which comes from brokenness. Humility helps give us a balanced view of God’s word. And we have to have a balanced understanding of Scripture in order to have a balanced perspective about our lives.



The purpose of Scripture is to reveal God to us, not to give us knowledge. Just learning facts about God and Christian history really doesn’t do us a whole lot of good. This doesn’t mean that facts aren’t important because they are. They give us reference and context to help us better understand the compassion that God has for all people. Our goal in studying the Bible makes all the difference. Do we want to increase our knowledge about God or do we want to increase our closeness with God? This is the profound question that is always before us.



For you see, the Bible is more than just a history book. It contains the breath and life of God. Our commitment to meditate on Scripture opens us up to inhale the breath of God. This will transform us. The love, the friendship, the instruction, and the eternal message of compassion that are in Scripture will move off the pages of the Bible and into us. We should think of Scripture in the same way that a man who’s dying of thirst would think about water. We should want it like someone who is starving would want a pizza. We want to drink it, eat it, consume it. We want to get Scripture into us so that it can nourish us, strengthen us and make us healthy and strong. Taking God’s Word into us will teach us to listen intently, to speak softly, and to live powerfully.








http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Our+Journey+home%2C+David+Zailer&x=20&y=28
Our Journey home - Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery
By David Zailer
Copyright 2011, Homecoming Books

WHAT WORKS, from WHEN LOST MEN COME HOME, NOT FOR MEN ONLY

WHAT WORKS


In Step Two of the Twelve Steps, "came to believe" expresses open-mindedness and faith, the willingness to look in a new direction for the power and resources that make a difference in life. "Came to believe" also suggests that we bring ourselves physically and emotionally to be with others who are living their lives with recovery and change successfully. We literally replace the old environment(s) that have been part of our
addictive cycles with new ones that help build healthy ways of living.

In my case, I "came to," — out of the addicted coma I had been living in for so long — and became consciously aware physically, intellectually and emotionally of the ugly reality that was my life. I "came to" realize that the only rational and reasonable thing to do was to look outside of myself, and let go of the self-centered belief that within myself I possessed everything necessary for a sane and healthy life. I "came to believe" that my only hope for a life worth living was to look beyond myself in order to find what was needed to make a difference in my life.


In the Operation Integrity fellowship, we admit our struggles to one another often. We admit that we sometimes feel like we are disconnected mentally and emotionally. We realize and we admit that at all costs we must stay away from our addictions if we hope for a real and meaningful recovery and personal change. Remembering the suffering our addictions brought us and the fact we are powerlessness over our addictions keeps us moving forward in the right direction.

We also separated ourselves from the people, the places and the things that promoted our addictions. Following what our friends from Alcoholics Anonymous suggested, "we became willing to go to any lengths."


Getting free from our addictions didn’t guarantee that life would be perfect, but to continue in the way we had been going almost certainly guaranteed our destruction. We had to gain some real integrity if life would ever improve. And together we are learning to have an authentic faith for recovery, which is to say we stop claiming faith only in ourselves.


On the occasions when we failed, which I did many times in my early recovery, we disclosed our failures honestly to one or more of our partners in recovery. This taught us we could regain some integrity simply by making an honest and open admission of our failures to someone who could understand our struggles. Amazingly, no one ever got tired of hearing about my failures. This is what a recovering fellowship is about — I am loved for who I am and who I am becoming regardless of my failures along the way. Recovery partners are more interested in me than my mistakes.


It was so bad we didn’t think we were going to make it.
We felt like we’d been sent to death row, that it was all over for us.
As it turned out, it was the best thing that could have happened.

2 Corinthians 1:9 MSG





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








Sunday, September 14, 2014

COMPLACENCY AND OVERCONFIDENCE - from OUR JOURNEY HOME












We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection! But I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be. No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing. Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven.
- Philippians 3:12-14, NLT

“As an insurance against “big-shot-ism” we can often check ourselves by remembering that we are sober today only by the grace of God and that any success we may be having is far more His success than ours.” - Alcoholics Anonymous, page 92, The Twelve and Twelve

Complacency and Overconfidence

We do our recovery work everyday because our addictions threaten us everyday. They never take a day off. Looking back, we’ll see that we’ve never really known when or how our addictions might strike. How many times have we found ourselves suffering a bout of addictive self-destruction and at the same time asking ourselves how did this happen again, what did I do wrong this time? Usually, the answer to this question was not that we did something wrong, but it was because we were not doing the simple but essential things that keep us from the slippery slopes of relapse.

Complacency and overconfidence are probably the most common reasons why people relapse. This is why we need to guard ourselves against pride, arrogance and overconfidence. We need to stay in close honest contact with our sponsors, our counselors and our recovery partners in order to keep our heads clear and free from the complacency and overconfidence that is so dangerous to us. As we humbly accept and admit our failures, our failures will increase our motivation for change and growth. As we maintain the habit of continuously sharing the good, the bad and the ugly parts of our lives, we will continue to become the men and the women that we have always wanted to be.

On our bad days, we tend to think about our failures. On our good days, we tend to think about our successes. But, on our best days, we tend not to think about ourselves at all because we are too busy thinking about God and other people.









http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Our+Journey+home%2C+David+Zailer&x=20&y=28
Our Journey home - Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery
By David Zailer
Copyright 2011, Homecoming Books

FINDING REAL HOPE - from WHEN LOST MEN COME HOME, NOT FOR MEN ONLY

FINDING REAL HOPE


While working to keep up my religious professions and church attendance, I struggled unsuccessfully to permanently stop using pornography which, in my case, promoted the use of alcohol and other drugs. In addition to alcohol, the drugs I used were cocaine and heroin, and I dabbled in methamphetamine on occasion. Finally, as is so often the case with those who use illegal drugs, I was arrested for my drug use and as an alternative to a prison sentence I was sent, fortunately, to a no-nonsense drug rehabilitation program. In this program I was monitored by urinalysis to make sure I was staying away from drugs, and I participated in group and individual counseling several times per week as required by the program. After about six weeks in the program, I was called into my counselor’s office, a gentleman by the name of Bobby O.
Face to face, he sat right across from me and said, "David, you profess to be a Christian, right?"
"Yeah," I replied.
He then asked, "Would you please tell me about your Jesus; tell me about your God?"
So I went on to tell him everything I knew about Jesus and God. This amounted to a two, maybe three-minute
historical accounting of what I had learned growing up in my church and Sunday School, the best I could remember it.
After a few minutes of patient listening, Bobby raised his hand to interrupt me and said, "Stop!" Then, looking me straight in the eye, he said, "David, I suggest that you find a new Jesus and a new God."
Feeling confused and quite offended, I asked him why.
And then, softly but very much to the point and once again looking me dead in the eye, Bobby said, "Well David, what you claim to know now hasn’t done you much good, has it?"
Shocked and speechless, I was unable to respond to Bobby in any way that seemed to make sense. The words he said to me made me feel as if I was left without a body, like I was the hole in a donut, like my whole life had just been swept off the table and crashed to the floor in pieces. I had no defense. The truth Bobby O spoke to me was so utterly true that I could not attack it or even get mad at it or him for saying it. What he said made my religious pride and arrogance evaporate into the nothing it had always been. With my ball of religious yarn unraveled, it was painfully obvious that the impersonal religious instruction I had grown up with had actually blocked me from knowing THE TRUE GOD. And this is where my personal miracle began.

The anguish of that moment, and seeing my folly of misguided beliefs, opened my heart and my mind to know THE SOURCE OF POWER which had given me life — THE SOURCE OF POWER that had protected me patiently as I squandered my life — THE POWER that was now offering me the possibility of a life worth living. Seeking God starts with admitting how little we know about God.
As absurd as it may sound, I believe that my addictions — the most core being my addiction to sex — are the second best thing that has ever happened to me. Somehow, while suffering the indignities that came from my addictions, a humble pliability took hold inside me. I was defeated inside and out. I’d had enough. I became desperate enough so that I was willing to try something new. I was ready to call on and trust something, SOMEONE bigger than me.


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