Monday, December 22, 2014

FROM SHAME TO GRACE - from OUR JOURNEY HOME


From Shame to Grace




“For God can use sorrow in our lives to help us turn away from sin and seek salvation. We will never regret that kind of sorrow. But sorrow without repentance is the kind that results in death.” 2 Corinthians 7:10, NLT


“We can accept God’s good gifts too easily. Grace can be accepted only when we face our own inabilities. Forgiveness can be embraced only when we lay bare our wrongdoing, and hope can be imparted only when we face the reality of our own despair.” - Charles Ringma




We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.


Humility is an awareness that we are both imperfect and worthwhile at the same time. Humility is a high ground that traverses the bogs and swamps of grandiosity and self-hatred. Humility chooses to follow God’s plan over our own. When we live humbly—which can be defined as consistently choosing God’s way of doing things over our own way of doing things—impossibly good things begin to happen to otherwise impossible people like us. We get turned inside out. Our attitude begins to change. Our outlook on life becomes healthier and more balanced. The destructive feelings we have had for ourselves will diminish. We will begin to see things differently. As we change on the inside, things around us begin to change as well. Life and the way we live it begin to make sense.


Humility is an acceptance of ourselves, sin and all. Humility helps us to see ourselves with one eye to evaluate and the other eye to appreciate. Humility admits shortcomings and wrongdoing, and then reaches out and accepts the help that is needed to make serious changes. Humility helps us to understand the problems that we cannot solve on our own. This is why Jesus becomes increasingly important to us in our recovery. For you see, God never expects us to solve all of our problems on our own. He understands that our character defects and our addictions are beyond our ability to change. So, God offers to do for us what we can never do for ourselves. He offers to transform us by taking our character defects and, in exchange, replacing them with the character of Jesus. All we have to do is give up our character defects to Him and humbly receive Jesus’ character as God, according to His plan, builds it in us.


Copyright David Zailer, 2011

GRACE - from WHEN LOST MEN COME HOME, NOT FOR MEN ONLY










GRACE

I know God loves all people including those of us who became addicted sexually. God not only loves you, He delights in you and wants you no matter who you are or what you have done. I am convinced of this because I have discovered it for myself. He reveals himself to me through the opening door of my honest, open and willing surrender. Thankfully, having an authentic relationship with God is not a matter of how smart I am, but how sincere I am with Him. He takes care of the rest. It’s simple, it’s effective and it’s called grace. Grace is God’s gift of a new life, no matter who you are, where you are or what you have done. God is concerned for you and He reveals himself to anyone who is interested in Him. When you are ready to receive and accept it, God’s grace will always be there to meet you. He’ll make His home in your heart. From there He will move into every aspect of your life, continually expanding His presence and filling you with Himself.
I believe all people — whether they know it or not — intuitively long for a spiritual and eternal Father, one who knows exactly what they need, one who is eternally committed to love and care for them perfectly. We all need an authentic relationship with a perfect Father. And this is where Jesus comes into the plan for our redemption. Jesus is the One Person who has always known God as the Perfect Father. He reveals who God the Father is and what God the Father is like. God may never be exactly what we want Him to be, but He will always be everything we need Him to be. There has always been only one whose life displayed perfection of purpose, whose death exemplified the perfection of love and who lived
again after death, proclaiming the perfection of power that altered the course of world history and changing individual lives.

In Jesus, I experience someone whose destiny offered Him all privileges but — by His own choice — gave up His entitlements, preferring to love others in surrender and obedience to God his Father. He embraced those who admitted their need for Him, anyone who was willing to ask for His help. He forgave those who sought to destroy Him. He never retaliated, nor defended Himself. He expressed love for those who killed Him, because He knew they did not understand who He was or what He was about. After giving up His life, He lived again and appeared to His followers, proclaiming once and for all His role as The One who is capable of giving life to dying men. He chose to associate with those who, like me, were socially and personally ravaged, drawing us to Himself, to His love and to His Father.

I am empowered by Jesus Christ according to His power and the gift of faith I have in His power. It is in Jesus that I have life and confidence in God’s care. Thank God Jesus loves the sexually addicted like me.

This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn't go to all the trouble of sending his Son
merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person's failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.
John 3:16-18 MSG

The man and the life of Jesus can never be contained in a history lesson or a theological discussion. The only place for Him and His Spirit to be is in the lives of men and women who, like me, become infused with His Power as a result of their faith and hope in Him. His life is my life. His God is my God. My life is His. God does not exist for me. I exist for God. Looking through the lens of eternity, everything begins to make sense. I am increasingly aware of the joy God brings, His excellent plan for me and the assurance that my life, the world around me, and the universe as a whole are loved by Him completely. The love of Jesus is changing my heart and as my heart changes, my mind is changing too. The recovery I am receiving is not about rule-keeping, religious moralizing and self-imposed corrections. I have experienced a complete change of allegiance, now preferring an intimate relationship with God above my sexual addictions, above my life, above everything. Jesus lived courageously, died lovingly and lived again eternally so we can know that God eternally forgives you and me. Are you ready to say…?


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
The Operation Integrity Prayer












Tuesday, December 9, 2014

DISSATISFACTION AND DESIRE - from OUR JOURNEY HOME

















Dissatisfaction and Desire

 
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness… “
Matthew 5:6 NLT

 
“Discontent is holy when it compels us to dream of redemption."
- Dan Allender, Ph.D.




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


Being part of a recovery fellowship on an ongoing basis will provide us with many opportunities to hear others tell about how they have suffered because of their addictions, and what it has been like for them to find recovery. One of the most incredible and amazing things that we will ever experience in a meeting is when someone shares how he or she has become grateful for having had addictions. In recovery, it is possible for the pain of our addictions to become a great motivator in our lives. Pain keeps us moving forward, compelling us to keep reaching out to find answers for the pain and troubles of life. As we recover, we find a very simple but profound solution. The solution for us is to want God—to want what He has to give us, more than we want what we, or our addictions, can provide us. This new kind of God-given desire helps us to see that pain is not our enemy, and we don’t need to run from it anymore. As we become wiling to face the day-to-day pains of life, our pain and difficulties are transformed into powerful avenues of learning and growth. Embracing pain as a learning opportunity brings us face-to-face with God’s work of redemption—a work that is only available to those who have the deep, pliable humility that leeches out of a desperate and dying pain.

We all seem to want more out of life than what we can provide for ourselves. Not only do we fail to supply ourselves with the things that we think will make us happy; our addictions prove that we fail to provide ourselves with a satisfying level of interpersonal and spiritual connectedness, too. We all fall short. We all fail to meet our own needs. By recognizing how we have failed to meet our own needs, no matter how hard we tried, we can see that the things that we’ve been addicted to are not our biggest problem. Our real problem is who we are. We are all in need of a complete, interpersonal overhaul, starting with the very core of our minds, our hearts and our innermost character.


Our addictions grow from a deep personal longing inside of us that silently cries out to be touched. When our deep longing goes untouched, we cry out all the more in ever deeper ways, craving with increasing intensity for more of the things that brought us relief in the past. This is how our addictions take hold of us. Deep-rooted painful feelings of uselessness, worthlessness and loneliness can be the triggers that send us back to our addictions time after time. With our longing unsatisfied, and after numerous and repeated attempts to do the right thing, invariably we fail, once again, falling deeper into our addictions. Desperate, over time, we become wholly and completely dissatisfied with who we are and with the way we have lived our lives. Our good intentions and our failures have simmered together until, finally—with God’s help—we become entirely ready to be recreated into a fundamentally different kind of person. We are sick and tired of being sick and tired. We are convinced that we will never satisfy our own innermost needs. Staying the same is no longer acceptable to us. We want to be different. Deep in our hearts we know that if we do not humbly make the choice to change, we will eventually die still wallowing in our addictions.


This profound misery and discontent is the birth point of a new healthier desire—a desire based not on our previous loves or lusts, but on a healthy and compelling longing to experience new life inside of us. The pain of our addictions helps us to understand that we really don’t need things to change; rather, the “I”, the “ME”, and the “WE” need to change. We are no longer satisfied with just being healed from our addictions. We want to have our complete and total self reformatted and changed by the perfect design of God. 










Our Journey Home - Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery
By David Zailer
Copyright 2011, Homecoming Books

IT IS A PROCESS- from WHEN LOST MEN COME HOME, NOT FOR MEN ONLY









IT IS A PROCESS


Having faith in God empowers me to accept a ‘process’ way of life for others and myself. We are all in process. My process is my job, not yours. Your process is your job, not mine. We have little or no control over anything except our own willingness which is the key to unlocking a life changing recovery. I am entrusted by God with my opportunity for my life, whether I lose it or find it restored. I am not called to be successful. I am called to be faithful. With this simple attitude, I am able to make a positive contribution to the world around me.


God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage
to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Serenity Prayer


This life therefore, is not righteousness, but growth in righteousness, not health but healing, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it: the process is not yet finished but it is going on. This is not the end but it is the road; all does not yet gleam in glory but all is being purified.
Martin Luther


"I know the plans I have for you", says the Lord. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray I will listen. If you look for me in earnest, you will find me when you seek me. I will be found by you," says the Lord. "I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and bring you home again to your land." 
Jeremiah 29:11-14 NLT











Thursday, December 4, 2014

ADMITTED TO GOD, from OUR JOURNEY HOME














Admitting to God
 
 “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy. Blessed is the man who always fears the Lord, but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble.” Proverbs 28:13-14 NLT"


My false and private self is the one who wants to exist outside the reach of God’s will and God’s love – outside of reality and outside of life. And such a self cannot help but be an illusion."- Thomas Merton
 

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

 
Getting honest about the details of our lives is the most powerful thing we can do to strengthen our intimate connection with God. Honesty puts us on the same page with Him. Knowing that He knows everything about us, there is no reason to hide what is inside of us anymore. When we get honest with God, we “cash the check” so to speak; we open ourselves up and receive the grace that He has already provided for us through Christ.
 

Step Five is not a religious exercise, so it’s important that we don’t over-spiritualize this aspect of our recovery. We are just admitting, with as much detail as we can, what God already knows. We acknowledge that we have never benefited from minimizing our weaknesses and shortcomings. We admit our pride and our stubbornness, with as much clarity as possible, most notably all of our silly attempts to solve our spiritual and emotional problems. We confess that we have been self-righteous in covert and creative ways. We admit that we have never fooled God and that we rarely fooled anyone else, only ourselves. We tell the details about how we have judged other people and, with as much humility as possible, we admit how our religiosity has kept God—and the goodness that He intends for us—at arm’s length.
 

God has known us in a deep way. Now we will begin to know ourselves in a deep way, too. As we are willing to admit the exact nature of our wrongs to God, we will be able to embrace the acceptance that He gives and then begin to accept ourselves in the same way—even the worst about us. The more we admit our shortcomings to God, the more we slice away at the fears that have ruled us from the inside. We will learn to be at peace with the mysterious ways of God. Embracing His deep acceptance, we will no longer be obsessed with trying to figure out the hidden streams and currents of God. We will lose our inhibitions. We will want to strip down, reveal ourselves completely and swim in the power of goodness that God offers to us. We will never sink or get lost when we are honest with God. He’ll do the navigating for us. Realizing that we are known by God in this intimate way, we can live at rest. We will be buoyed in His grace forever, floating and moving with the currents of His guidance and care. There is no need to fear the oceanic mystery of God anymore. No matter where His currents lead our lives, the ultimate destination for us is more than very, very good.











Our Journey Home - Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery
By David Zailer
Copyright 2011, Homecoming Books

TRUE SURRENDER , from WHEN LOST MEN COME HOME, NOT FOR MEN ONLY






TRUE SURRENDER

In true surrender to God, we quit fighting anyone or anything, because we know the only battle really worth fighting is within ourselves. Because I am powerless over people, places and things, it is essential that I keep as my primary goal a faith that longs for God and trusts in His care. A trusting relationship with God always brings improving character.

"You know you're surrendered to God when you rely on God to work things out instead of trying to manipulate others, force your agenda, and control the situation. You let go and let God work. You don't have to always be 'in charge.' Instead of trying harder, you trust more." 
Rick Warren - The Purpose Driven Life

Sexual addiction can be like a train wreck. Just because we put on the brakes does not mean we won’t crash and have the pieces of our lives come apart. Consequences already set in motion by poor decisions and destructive actions will likely play themselves out to their natural conclusion. How we come to accept the world, our circumstances and our consequences varies individually, but the willingness to accept the things we cannot change is essential. True surrender means being willing to accept the world and the circumstances that are beyond our ability to control. This is essential for everyone, addicted or not.


As I recover and grow, I am learning to make peace with an imperfect and often unfair world. It’s broken and it just doesn’t run right. I see others getting away with things I no longer get away with but wish I could. At the same time, I find myself asking — or maybe it’s God asking me — How many times did people look at the way I lived and wonder why I was getting away with those same things? The truth is no one gets away with wrongdoing. Sooner or later, we all reap what we sow.

Regardless of the difficulties I face in this world, it is my job to focus on my spiritual relationship with God as I understand His will to be, and allow others to do what they will, be it right or wrong. A man’s freedom is his right according to his Creator. God gives every man the right to make his choices. It’s not our place to judge. By virtue of the gift of recovery, my response-ability is to do all I can to make my life right with God and with others. This I can do.