Tuesday, October 28, 2014

OUT OF THE BOX AND INTO THE LIGHT - from OUR JOURNEY HOME


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



I am Light that has come into the world so that all who believe in me won't have to stay any longer in the dark.
John 12:46 The Message



Pay attention to the external Source and the internal power will be there.
-Oswald Chambers My Utmost for His Highest





Out of The Box Into The Light



Most of us have had our addictions much longer than we first realized. Because of the destructive impact that our addictions have made on our hearts and minds, we’ve probably not known what it means to be emotionally healthy. It’s like we’ve grown up being locked away in a box. There, in our addictions that is, it would be impossible for us to see the light of freedom. Without light we could not see the future with any sense of joy or healthy expectation. Living in addiction is like being stuck in a cave for so long that we have forgotten what it feels like to have the warmth of the sun on our face. Because we’ve only known the dark up till now it’s been impossible for us to comprehend The Light.



But, as we get connected to a recovery fellowship we begin to see people who have seen “The Light” and the hopefulness that The Light brings with it. From the example of others whose lives are being changed for the better we can see that things can change for us: that the destructive patterns of our lives need not continue anymore. With what we can see in The Light, we come to believe that change can happen for us because we see it happening for others right before our very eyes. This is how God, The Higher Power, works. He works through people.



As God gives us The Light, through the guiding direction of others, we begin to see the pathway to recovery and change being illuminated right in front of us. We see that The Light for living is available to everyone. We find its usefulness not because we are special but because it is the nature of light to light up things around it. Our job is simply to put ourselves in the Light, which is another way of saying we put our confidence and trust in God. For many of us this was a radical but subtle departure from the ways we have talked about God in the past. Let’s get honest, simply talking about God really hasn’t helped us much in the past, has it? After all, many of us have spent much of our lives in religious exercise but have never really known God as any kind of real Higher Power. If anything, our addictions prove that in the past God, as we would refer to him, has been little more than a religious symbol or relic, impersonal words on a page of religious material, or possibly for some of us, a tyrannical overlord that demanded that we observe religious impositions that seem to be irrelevant and arbitrary.



For God to be The Light, our Higher Power that is, means to recognize God to be The One that we trust will show us the way to a life that is free from our addicted insanity. Then, in faith, God, The Higher Power, becomes our Protector, our Sustainer, and our Redeemer. If we think of God in any way less than this we take Him for granted. And if we take God for granted we waste this chance to recover from our addicted insanity. Either God is The Ultimate Higher Power for us or He is nothing for us.



Furthermore, as God works in our lives, we find that The Light that illuminates the way for us is not always pleasant. Not only does The Light shine the way to a hopeful future, it also illuminates areas of our lives that we have not considered before. Many of these areas will need to be changed just as much as our addictions need to be changed. In his loving care for us, God does not discriminate.




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

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






REAL FAITH


Real faith is humble and willing to accept answers, any answer that helps us recover. A faith that hopes in a power greater than we are will not seek to debate, to conquer or win unnecessary arguments. In real faith we realize the need to live well is much greater than the need to be "right." Through a humble faith like this, the humiliation of sexual addiction can be molded into an openness which maximizes the chances for recovery and the restoration of a life truly worth living. In faith, we are transformed from victims to survivors, the kind of people who are able to help and guide others. Real faith is the catalyst of revolution for every man, be they religious minded or non-religious minded.


And faith is much more common than we may realize. Each of us exercises faith daily when we tap into the power of natural physics to make life more convenient. When you turn the key to your car, what do you expect? Power to start the engine. When you flip a light switch, what are you looking for? Light. What are you looking for when you pick up the telephone? To get connected. We have faith in the benefits of modern technology through personal experience. In the same way, we can learn faith in God by personal experience, too.


This is how I discovered a faith that gives me the power to recover from my addictions. In varying ways and with varying degrees of progress, I’ve discovered that I can trust in others, "higher powers" if you will, and The Higher Power, God.

So, if the thought of trusting God is troubling you, don’t worry about it right now. There are lots of "higher powers" who can assist you in your recovery. Relax! And allow God to help you learn to trust Him. This, we believe, is the genesis of real faith after all.


In our fellowship today, there are men who rejected God initially, but in their hope for recovery stayed open-minded. They made good use of other "higher powers" which helped them move into recovery, but only to the degree that they remained honest about themselves and open-minded about God.


The true "Higher Power" will reveal Himself to anyone who sincerely wants to know Him. Faith springs from hope for life. It flourishes from humility and honesty and openness, making us more and more aware of the goodness God seeks to give us. That’s how it’s been for me.


Faith is all about possibilities: the possibility that we can be restored to sanity, the possibility that we will truly gain freedom from our sexual addiction, the possibility that our personality and life will be changed and that God will be known in a personal and profound way. You don’t need to know who to call for because when you call for THE TRUE GOD, He knows that you call for Him and only Him. There is no one else.


"But there is One who has all power – that One is God. May you find Him now.
Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point.
We asked His protection and care with complete abandon." 
Alcoholics Anonymous, The Big Book pg 59


As we said before, some in our fellowship were very religious when they began their work of recovery. They asserted that their way of life was "the way," the "right way," or the "only way." But even with their powerful and prideful professions of faith, they became sexual addicts just like the rest of us. It was like their religious professions were more of a handicap, propping them up like religious scarecrows, empty and worn, unable to acknowledge and admit their needs and shortcomings. This is why it’s so easy to hide in religion. I’ve done it personally many times and I’ve done it very well. The truth of the matter is this: while "religious" addicts maintain well-intentioned commitments, and may even speak eloquently about theology and God, their religious experience is contained within their own personal thinking and will never be sufficient for true spiritual living, as proven by their addiction. Sex addicts are sex addicts whatever their religion. And, religion by itself never cures an addiction of any kind. In reality, misguided rule-keeping religion promotes and deepens addiction, and can even become an addiction itself.


True religion becomes reality only when it is relational, and part of a personal revolution that transforms someone — their thoughts, their feelings, their beliefs, and their actions. Anything less than this is not true faith or true religion. But, having said all of this, we don’t encourage anyone to leave their church or denomination. Where we had failed to find a true personal faith and live it out in an honest and sincere religious experience, many others from various churches have succeeded.


Instead of trusting in our own strength or wits to get out of it, we were forced to trust God totally – not a bad idea since he’s the God who raises the dead!
2 Corinthians: 1:9 MSG


So, is your "religion" working for you? Are your personal convictions successfully guiding you through life? Are you experiencing inside yourself the kind of life that keeps you free from the internal conflicts that result in addictions? If so, why are you reading this book? Addictions of any kind prove that we need to become spiritual where we have been pious, humble where we’ve been self-confident, honest where we’ve been self-deceived and open-minded where we have been stubborn. Before God will be anything to any of us, He will be our Savior. Either God is everything or He is nothing!

When God touched me in His own time, I experienced a power that is deeply personal, beyond my comprehension and impossible to explain. New ground had been broken within me. God was revealing Himself in a way I had never imagined He would. And I hope the same for you.


"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, The Grapevine January 1962


"In my own case, the foundation of freedom from fear is that of faith: a faith that despite all worldly appearances to the contrary, causes me to believe that I live in a universe that makes sense. To me, this means a belief in a Creator who is all power, justice and love; a God who intends for me a purpose, a meaning and a destiny to grow, however haltingly, toward his own likeness and image. Before the coming of faith I had lived as an alien in a cosmos that too often seemed both hostile and cruel. In it there could be no inner security for me."
Bill Wilson, As Bill Sees It







Wednesday, October 15, 2014

GOD KNOWS WHAT YOU ARE GOING THROUGH from OUR JOURNEY HOME


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

As He saw many people, He had loving-pity on them. They were troubled and were walking around everywhere. They were like sheep without a shepherd.
Matt 9:36 New Life Version


To be alive is to be addicted, and to be alive and addicted is to stand in need of grace. - Gerald G. May, M.D.

God Knows What You Are Going Through

Step One of the Twelve Step recovery process requires that we get honest about how we have failed to control our addictions and our lives. This includes recognizing and admitting that we have lost control over our compulsive desires and that we have failed in all of our attempts to regain control.

To recover from our addictions, it is important for us to recognize that no human being, no place, or anything will solve our internal problems. In fact, even our own efforts will become problems for us if we rely on them alone to change the way we think and feel about ourselves and our lives. Even the little nagging personal problems that we have but don’t consider as addictions (mostly our bad habits, our secret fantasies and our illusions) will take on the qualities and destructive aspects of addiction when we rely on them. After all, addictions are nothing more than bad habits that have become both idolatrous and pathological. In the end, only God can do for us what we have been unable to do for ourselves.

At the center of everything we believe as Christians is a belief that God has the human face of Jesus Christ. Through the scriptural story of the life of Jesus we see how God reacts to people when they suffer. God, through Jesus, responds to suffering with compassion and empathy. Compassion, commitment to love and empathy are the displayed characteristics of the God-humanness that was and is the life of Christ. As God walked the earth through the life of Jesus, he never turned away from anyone who asked him for help. Now it is important to understand that not everyone that encountered Jesus came away from meeting him with the kind of help that they wanted. There were, after all, those who had violent reactions to Jesus and there were also those who came away disappointed and unhealed. But, to those who were willing to admit their hopeless suffering, Jesus gave a power and grace that changed the way they viewed themselves and their lives. In their sincere confession, they were given a power to change that had not been available to them before they met Christ. Hopelessness was made into faith and suffering made into strength. While God does not offer us an escape from inconvenience or discomfort, he does offer us a complete and total change of who we are, which in turn will change our life. To experience this change we must first admit our anguish and longing which then opens us to a desperate but powerful faith and hope in God’s love and care.

Step 1 is the prelude and preparation for a life changing faith and hopefulness. First, we must admit that we cannot solve our problems on our own, no matter how hard we try. As we do this, we get in touch with the center point of our pain and desperation which is the exact place where we became willing to ask God to do for us what we could not do for ourselves. With God there is hope and without him we’re screwed.










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

RELATIONSHIP — NOT RELIGION : from WHEN LOST MEN COME HOME, NOT FOR MEN ONLY




RELATIONSHIP — NOT RELIGION


Whatever I had previously thought I believed and then professed to others regarding God and/or religion didn’t matter much because it obviously had not been authentic enough to really work for me. Others in the fellowship have experienced this same realization about their own religious beliefs and opinions. Those who claimed no God were in trouble and what others may have professed about God hadn’t helped either. We all ended up in the same place — addicted. Call it whatever you want. What we really needed was real and effective help, and with an open mind and heart, we became ready to receive that help!

The concept of faith may offend those who consider themselves too smart to believe in God. For some, the mere mention of the word "faith" threatens self-indulgent egos and self-mastered lives. Some of our group had believed God was nothing more than a concoction of weak-willed people who were searching for answers through religious distraction and effort. And I agreed with them in one respect. Any "god" created within the mind of man is not God. Any "god" defined solely by human terms and descriptions serves only the dictates and demands of someone’s predetermined thinking, which is to some degree, always flawed, shortsighted and ignorant. In these ways, whatever is believed cannot be God. In a similar way, indifference, complacency, defiance, self-sufficiency and prejudice are in some ways understandable for those who, like me, were raised in religious environments that lacked nurturing love, were abusive or didn’t affirm the human dignity God created within all people. We all suffer from pride and our own prejudices which block us from discovering God in a way that truly makes a difference in our lives. However, with hope for a new life connecting with the painful motivations created by our addictions, we realize we must seek God on His terms and not our own. We must allow Him to tell us who He is and what He is all about.