Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A NEW PURPOSE FOR OUR LIVES, from OUR JOURNEY HOME


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.



Copyright David Zailer, 2011

GETTING REAL WITH OTHERS, from WHEN LOST MEN COME HOME, NOT FOR MEN ONLY










Getting Real with Others

 

For forty years I lived in isolation. Raised in a large metropolitan area surrounded by thousands, if not millions of people, I learned to exist alone in the world. I had grown to prefer my life that way because I had never known any other way. It was the way of my family. The rule in my family was that weakness, when exposed, would be ridiculed, if not punished. And from this example, I grew up believing I was entitled to my selfishness as long as I kept it veiled behind a veneer of politeness, civility and “christian” respectability. By the time I was an adolescent, I was a master of avoiding my problems and any people or situations that could expose my shortcomings or the loneliness I felt inside. I feared others. I doubted my worth. I had no confidence in my upbringing. I survived and existed. My life was a living hell.

            I was 41 years old when I got help from others and began stopping my addictions, which was a big step in the right direction. But, in addition to stopping my destructive way of life, I also needed to learn how to come out of the isolation I had learned as a child, to live in a real world of real people, and have real relationships with them. I’m not sure which felt worse: the painful experience of detoxing from drugs and alcohol or the experience of getting honest about myself with others. 

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

DARNELL'S STORY - from OUR JOURNEY HOME

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.




Copyright David Zailer, 2011

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

As we learn to understand the real facts about ourselves, we begin to grasp a real worldview of who we are and how we have hurt ourselves and those around us. And this makes us ready to change. We also begin to let our resentments go, realizing that, with God’s help, it’s possible that we can forgive every person who has hurt us, starting with forgiving ourselves. Resentment kills sex addicts. In forgiveness, we release ourselves from the hurts others caused us. And, procrastination delays the forgiveness that leads to freedom. This is why lollygaggers don’t recover from sexual addiction.

To forgive is to set a prisoner free,
and to discover all along the prisoner was you.

 Corrie ten Boom







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Monday, February 2, 2015

Operation Integrity at Westside Church - Omaha


Had a wonderful experience with the family of Westside Church in Omaha, teaching about addiction and recovery from a Christ-centered perspective. Click this link to view.
http://www.wchurch.tv/breaking-free-series

A LIFESTYLE OF VIGILENCE- from OUR JOURNEY HOME





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 David Zailer, 2011

Focus on Your Inventory - from WHEN LOST MEN COME HOME, NOT FOR MEN ONLY





















Focus on Your Inventory

During this process, you may find yourself obsessing over damage done to you by other people. I admit I did on many occasions. Others may have caused profound harm to you, but for now, it is essential that you concentrate on your own mistakes, and not on the mistakes of others. This is your inventory, no one else’s. You are responsible for your recovery and changing your life. Let others work out their own problems with God just as you and I are doing. Their personal problems are not our job and certainly none of our business. Any resentment you have should be listed and cataloged as part of your inventory. You can discuss them with your sponsor or mentor at the appropriate time.

            My recovery partners and I approached our personal moral inventories in different ways. But there were some common characteristics. We each faced some tough questions posed to us by our sponsors and other people who were helping us in our recovery. Then we wrote about ourselves in journals, noting our responses to the questions asked. Personally, I found recovery workbooks quite helpful. We wrote about our family history and any memories of our families which we thought were important, writing down every thought, memory and feeling the best we could. We wrote about the people who harmed us. We wrote about the people we harmed. We wrote a great deal about our sexual experiences, why we did the things we did, and how we felt when we were doing them, and how we felt after doing them. We wrote about love, what we desired for love to be like and how we may have been disappointed by those we loved. We wrote it all. We wrote everything. Here are some of the questions that we asked ourselves:
  • What are you angry about and why?
  • How have others hurt you?
  • Who hurt you? Was it parents, family members, people from church or school, neighbor, enemy, friend?
  • What or whom are you afraid of?
  • Do you remember your first sexual experience? What was it?
  • How old were you when you began the behaviors that turned into your sexual addiction?
  • How have you violated your own sexual ethics?
  • When did you first think you may be addicted sexually?
  • How have your sexually addictive behaviors increased over time?
  • How have you violated or objectified others sexually, personally or socially?
  • How have your sexually addictive behaviors impacted your spouse, your children, your health and your career?
  • How have you violated or objectified yourself?
  • How have you abused those weaker than you?
  • How have you been greedy?
  • How have you been selfish?
  • How have you been a hypocrite religiously, sexually or socially?
  • How have you expressed unwarranted pride?
  • How have you manipulated others and your own thinking through self-pity?
  • When and why do you feel self-pity?
  • Why are you willing to sacrifice long-term health and sanity for short-term gratification?
  • How and why have you minimized your mistakes and addictions?
  • How have you exaggerated your successes?
  • Have you minimized your successes? Why?
  • What do you like about yourself?
  • What do you not like about yourself?
  • What do others like about you?
  • How have you blamed others for your difficulties?
  • What do you feel guilty about?
  • Is there anything that you are intentionally avoiding? What is it?
  • Are you, or about what are you procrastinating regarding your inventory?
  • Why do you lie?


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