Tuesday, December 27, 2016

GETTING INTIMATE WITH GOD

We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.

As he went out into the street, a man came running up, greeted him with great reverence, and asked, "Good Teacher, what must I do to get eternal life?" Jesus said, "Why are you calling me good? No one is good, only God. You know the commandments: Don't murder, don't commit adultery, don't steal, don't lie, don't cheat, honor your father and mother." He said, "Teacher, I have—from my youth—kept them all!" Jesus looked him hard in the eye—and loved him! He said, "There's one thing left: Go sell whatever you own and give it to the poor. All your wealth will then be heavenly wealth. And come follow me." The man's face clouded over. This was the last thing he expected to hear, and he walked off with a heavy heart. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and not about to let go.
Mark 10:17-22 The Message

“A saint is not someone who is good but someone who experiences the goodness of God.” -Thomas Merton

Getting Intimate with God

Scripture is full of people who can help us become more intimate with God. But it’s not always because they had such a good relationship with God themselves. One such person is the man we read about in Mark 10. Let’s call him Don. From what the Bible says, we know that Don rushes around in a big hurry, with all kinds of drama, all in an effort to do what he thinks he needs to do so that he can live forever. Sounds like some of us, doesn’t it?

From what we read we know that Don was intensely committed to his religious practice, rituals he had kept since childhood. Speculating a little, Don was probably the kind of guy who attended church without fail. We can almost see him, tall and well put together. We can bet that Don took really good care of his appearance, presenting himself to the world with great care and consideration. He knew he was doing good and it was important to him to impress others with just how good he was. He probably drove a nice car and, secretly of course, he was proud that he kept his car looking and running better than anyone else in his neighborhood. For sure, Don was well respected at church and at home. This made him feel important. Being the man that he was, Don was obsessed with learning all that he needed to know in order to get rid of anything that limited the life that he loved so much. It seems like Don thought of Jesus as little more than a means to an end. Because Don was committed to getting everything that he thought was important, he inadvertently treated Jesus as if Jesus was just an object that was there to give Don what he thought he needed. Don was in control, or so he thought. In the most subtle of ways, Don was playing God. This is what we do when try to use God to get our way. It happens even with our best intentions. None of us means to objectify God but we do, at least to some degree. It’s really not a question of if we have, but how often have we.

Jesus gives Don an amazing comeback. He didn’t directly confront Don’s religiosity and pride. He just suggested that Don should keep doing more of what he was already doing. Then, being such a hard worker and all, Don was apparently overcome with a deep, deep sadness. After all, since childhood he had been working harder and harder to get a better life and it obviously hadn’t been working for him. If it had, he wouldn’t have been so desperate for something more. So, deep in his gut, he knew it wasn’t going to work now. Do you know this feeling?

Here the story could have taken a great turn, but it didn’t. Jesus continued to respond to Don by challenging his attachments. (Don probably had some addictions mixed in there, too.) While challenging Don to detach and free himself from the things that he held so dear, Jesus extended an invitation to enter into the intimacy of living with Jesus on a day-to-day basis just like the rest of Jesus’ followers did. Sadly, Don could not make this decision. He could not find it within himself to let go of the old life of religion and take hold of this new life of relationship.
We need to be careful not to speculate too much because we can’t read Don’s mind. We can only know for sure what Scripture tells us. Perhaps Don just didn’t believe what Jesus was saying. Perhaps he couldn’t fathom the idea that gaining eternal life did not depend on him alone. Or, perhaps Don just didn’t really want what Jesus had to offer. Don seemed determined to think that his religious discipline and control would be enough to get himself right with God forever. He chose pride over life.

Don’s story will only benefit us if we are willing to learn from it. Sometimes we learn the most in observing the failures of others. It is important for us to relate ourselves to Don and his encounter with Christ, failures and all. For you see, Jesus is about more than just overcoming an addiction. He is about more than just going to heaven when we die. Any reason and all reasons are good reasons to come to Christ, but the only way we will continuously bring life to our sinful existence is to seek intimacy with Christ for the sake of God himself. Any other reason becomes sin sooner or later. Jesus is more than a religious icon. Jesus is how God identifies himself to us in a personal way. In Jesus, God shows himself as the perfect human so that all of us imperfect humans can enjoy a perfected relationship with God. It’s simple really. As we make the decision to surrender our will and our life to Jesus we get close, we get real and we get intimate with God. It’s a love story, not a religious story. God looks deep into us and no matter of what he sees, He loves us just like Jesus loved Don. What Jesus did for Don, God is doing for us. He challenges us. He calls us. He invites us to let go of the things which have been holding us back, most notably our religious attempts to prove ourselves worthy. God frees us from the demand that we get our act together. He knows that even if we did ever get our act together, all that we would ever have would be an act.

Christ, is here to give us His life if we are willing to let go of the lifelessness that we have known up to now.

He has done his part now. Let us do ours.






Available at all major book retailers

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

JOURNEY FROM SHAME TO GRACE

We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

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

Journey From Shame to Grace

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 we 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 to shortcoming and wrongdoing, then it 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 to is to give up our character defects to Him and humbly receive Jesus’ character as God, according to His plan, builds it in us.


Available from all major book sellers

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

ADMITTED TO GOD

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


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

Admitting to God

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 righteousness 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 accept the acceptance that He gives. As we accept the acceptance that He gives, we will 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. Accepting 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. Knowing 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.


Available from all booksellers

Operation Integrity 2016 Year-End Update

 Operation Integrity 2016 Year-End Update                                
 
With deep appreciation for your prayers and support in 2016, I present our year-end update.
 
·        Operation Integrity continues to serve 3 churches in CA while supporting Christ-centered recovery efforts in 8 States with new starts in Austin TX & Albuquerque NM.
·        OI continues to mentor private recovery meetings across the U.S. and beyond – with groups at a seminary in the UK and two home fellowships in Australia, and our books OUR JOURNEY HOME & WHEN LOST MEN COME HOME, NOT FOR MEN ONLY are now being used in Johannesburg South Africa.
·        We continue providing affordable recovery programs through our 45 Day Intensive & 90 Day Transformation.
·        I continue to work personally with Pastors and Clergy in Ohio, North Carolina, Oklahoma, California, Michigan, Wisconsin, Colorado, Texas and Canada, The United Kingdom, Greece and Australia.
·        3700+ people read Operation Integrity Weekly.
·        Operation Integrity wrote a book used in-house by a southern California mental health organization.
·        Operation Integrity wrote content for an 8-part video series produced by a national addiction treatment program.
 
2017 brings a new emphasis to our work — blending a Christ-centered message with proven clinical tools and the proven effectiveness of 12–Step communities. It looks like this:
 
Operation Integrity collects essential information from Christ-teaching, well-proven clinical & professional understanding and the essential wisdom of 12 Step teaching and community.
 
Operation Integrity formats this blended information to offering it to help guide and inspire Christian communities better understand addicted people within their community, assist clinical professionals do what they cannot otherwise do (community and spiritual development) and helping 12 Step participants better integrate their 12 Step addiction recovery effort with a Christ-centered perspective.                                            
              
The result is an integrated process-driven program that provides Education, Community, Combined 12-Step and counseling/therapy (The Inner Journey) — all leading to Christ-centered emotional and spiritual health. This work will be presented through speaking and writing, and woven into our fellowship group program, and encouraged as an essential recovery experience for individuals.
The result will look like this.
                       
Three primary applications of education, community, the inner journey, all leading to sustainable spiritual formation.
 
1.     Communications, Writing and Public presentation information/inspiration relevant to addiction recovery
2.     Coaching/mentoring recovery fellowships (recovery groups and fellowships) using OI literature
3.     Promote OI process for individuals - 12 Step and discipleship based
 
What Operation Integrity Needs - a short list of current challenges and opportunities for 2017.
·       Refunding The Roger M Fund (provides funding for 45 & 90 Day Programs)
·       Meet current support needs – my personal financial support for doing this work.
·       Fund additional printing of literature for Prison Chaplain support efforts (supplying OI literature to inmates through chaplains)
·       General overhead including shipping and postage costs, vehicle and travel expenses, communications, social networking and online costs, and non-reimbursable travel.
·       Client services which includes short-term care of individuals such as temporary housing (sober-living), and even sometimes help with food and clothing, as well as employer relations and family support and counseling. 
·       Print and ship literature in support of developing recovery groups in U.S and overseas.
 
 
How You Can Be Part of Operation Integrity in 2017
 
Operation Integrity must raise $34,700.00 to finish 2016 on target, giving us a strong start for 2017. I ask that you financially support our efforts. (All donations to Operation Integrity are tax deductible.)
 
I thank you personally in advance for your contributions. Most of all I thank you for your ongoing support through prayer.
 
There are two ways you can financially support Operation Integrity.
1. Visit us at www.operationintegrity.org to make a donation.
2. Mail your check to Operation Integrity
24040 Camino del Avion #A115
Monarch Beach CA 92629
 
Yours in Christ and recovery,
 
David Zailer
Executive Director
 
1-949-842-1012
 
Follow Operation Integrity on Facebook, & Twitter @opintegrity

Friday, November 18, 2016

THE EVERYDAYNESS OF PROGRESS


We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.



We justify our actions by appearances; God examines our motives. 
Proverbs 21:2, The Message

"What helps at this point is to see your consequences as your teachers. You have been sent a lesson to learn. If you don’t learn the lesson this time, it will manifest itself again, and probably in a more painful form the next time."
- Patrick Carnes, Ph. D.

The Everydayness of Progress 
We need to practice our recovery principles every day. The daily monitoring of our motives helps us to have an honest view of ourselves and this helps to insure that we continue to recover from our addictions. God doesn’t tell us to bring our failures to Him just once. He tells us to bring our failures to Him continuously, day in and day out. For you see, recovery is a continuous process of character development. We can’t be what we’re not, but with practice we can make progress and move closer to the ideal example that God gave us in Christ. This means that we need to have a well-balanced understanding of our real needs and our most honest feelings. We also need to be ruthlessly honest about the health of our relationships, and the way that we live our lives when no one is watching. To whatever degree we have been guilty of playing to the crowd, so to speak, will be the degree that we place ourselves in jeopardy, risking a relapse of addictive destruction. We have to be real, everyday. We have to quit pretending.
           
When we lack character, we need to admit it to ourselves. We need to admit it to God and we need to admit it to someone else, too. When we lack integrity we need to admit that as well. As we admit our lack of character and integrity, we open ourselves up to an infusion of God’s transforming grace which is the most fundamental building block of character and integrity. This kind of construction is very personal. It is more intimate than anything we can ever do on our own, even with or without the help of other people. It is a gift from God and not something that we have earned on our own. The work we do is essential for our growth and recovery and we certainly need help from others, but in the end it is God who changes the condition of the human heart and mind.
           
As we continue to admit our wrongdoing and as we continue to correct our mistakes whenever and however we can - the best we can - we continue to live within the framework of God’s character. God’s character continues to be built into us and His character will help us to think and live more effectively in the future. 
This is an excerpt of OUR JOURNEY HOME
 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

LIFE LIBERATED

We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

Pay all your debts, except the debt of love for others. You can never finish paying that! If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill all the requirements of God's law.
Romans 13:8, NIV

“Honest men fear neither the light nor the dark.”
- Thomas Fuller, M.D.

Life Liberated

Learning to love ourselves the way that God loves us will give us an ever increasing freedom to live our lives. This freedom to live is not just a freedom from our addictions; it is a fully liberated life that begins on the inside of us and then it moves out into all of the ways that we express ourselves. The liberty that God gives is not subject to the limitations and demands that we experience in our day-to-day lives, and while this freedom is bigger than our everyday lives, it does not make us immune to feeling fear when we are faced with uncertainty. God gives the kind of freedom and liberty that empowers and equips us to act with courage even in the face of uncertainty, when we feel fear. And, in the same way, we may feel pain but we can act with kindness even when feeling pain. The gift and responsibility of freedom is most evident when we address the negative consequences we’ve created, and when we make amends to those who have been hurt by the way we’ve lived in the past. When speaking with those to whom we owe amends, we will want to share with them that we recognize that we have had an addiction, that we know that our past actions have been hurtful and that we want to make things right to the best of our ability. Sharing the facts of our addictions and our mistakes in a general way allows us to communicate with others from a standpoint of humility and honesty. We don’t have to share every gory and ugly detail with them. We don’t need to air out all of our dirty laundry either. This is not about the past; it is about the present and about the future. We should only share what will be helpful to them and to others. Being forthright in this way, we begin to establish healthier communication with those that we’ve hurt. It will also help to put them at ease and it will put us in a place where we can more effectively make the amends that we need to make. Sharing in this way will also open the door for others to honestly share their feelings with us. Dialogue must be an honest two-way street. We must be willing to listen – honestly and openly listen -- in order to understand how we have hurt them and what we need to do to help them.

Some amends can and should be made face-to-face. Some can never be made directly. Others will have to be postponed for a better time. We’ll be of little benefit to anyone, if in our attempts to clear our own conscience, we offer ourselves as sacrificial lambs. We should consult with our sponsors and our counselors about situations where we face serious consequences. We never want to run away from the reality of our past mistakes but we also do not want to be shortsighted, disregarding our current relationships or responsibilities in an attempt to be a hero to the past. Our sponsors and counselors helped us to know how to handle each situation. When we face situations where people demand certain answers from us that we do not want to give, we consult with our sponsors and counselors. Sometimes a three-way meeting between us, our victim and our counselors is necessary for things to get going in the right direction.

There is rarely a good reason to hurry. It is far better to do recovery well than to do it fast!

Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery

Thursday, October 20, 2016

THE POINT OF OUR PRAYER

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.

Are you seeking great things for yourself Don’t do it! But don’t be discouraged! Jeremiah 45:5, NLT

“In this life we cannot always do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” - Mother Teresa

The Point of Our Prayer

People who struggle with addictions are by no means the only people who need the deep changes that only God can make. No one is exempt. We all need God and we all need the power to live that only He gives.

The following prayers are examples of how others have expressed themselves to God. They provide us with a template we can use to express ourselves to God. These prayers will remind us that our relationship with God is always the most important thing. We don’t own ourselves anymore. We belong to God now. And He can do with us whatever He knows to be best.

As we meditate on the following prayers; the people who wrote them will become like friends to us. Their prayers will help us move and grow toward God.

3rd Step Prayer from Alcoholics Anonymous
God, I offer myself to Thee – to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy love, and Thy way of life. May I do Thy will always! Amen.

Attributed to Brennan Manning
Abba, I surrender my will and my life to you today, this very moment, without reservation and with humble confidence, for you are my loving Father. Set me free from self-consciousness, from anxiety about tomorrow, and from the tyranny of the approval and disapproval of others, that I may find joy and delight simply and solely in pleasing you. May my inner freedom be a compelling sign of your presence, your peace, your power, and your love. Let your plan for my life and the lives of all your children gracefully unfold one day at a time. I love you with all my heart, and I place all my confidence in you, for you are my Abba Father. Amen.

The Serenity Prayer, from theologian Reinhold Niebuhr
God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change; Courage to change the things I can; and the Wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time; accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it: Trusting that you will make all things right if I surrender to your will; that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with you forever in the next. Amen.

Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy. Lord, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.

7th Step Prayer from Alcoholics Anonymous
My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do you bidding. Amen.

Operation Integrity Prayer
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.

OUR JOURNEY HOME
Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

GOD AS WE UNDERSTOOD HIM


We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.


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.
John 3:16-18 The Message

God, I offer myself to Thee, to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of Life. May I do Thy will always! Amen
- Third Step prayer from Alcoholics Anonymous

God As We Understood Him

I am not God and neither are you. We must fully accept this simple fact if we are to ever have an effective and workable understanding of God.
           
As children, seemingly from birth that is, we tend to think that everyone and everything around us is connected to us. As we grow up a little we come to realize that we are separate from the world and only part of a larger context, but we still tend to think of the world in relationship to ourselves. It’s like we are the center of our own universe. We feel good when the ”world,” the people, the places and the things around us, give us what we think we need. But when the “world” doesn’t cooperate we tend to feel bad and then we try to change the “world” so that we can feel better. This has never worked for any of us. No matter how hard we’ve tried, we cannot control the people, the places, or the things around us all of the time. Because we believed that it was so important for us to be in control of our world, and because we invariably failed to control this world of ours, we could never provide any sense of security or well being for ourselves. No matter how hard we tried, we could not do what only God can do.

No matter how good or bad we feel, or what degree of success or failure we experience, one thing is for sure: things are going to change. God is the only constant. He is The Only Reality. The lives that we know are only temporary. The only way that we will ever experience any relevance or permanence in our life is through a relationship with God. As we understand that no one is God but God, we can begin to experience life in a way that not only transcends our addictions but all of our other failures and shortcomings, too. This is because our life, including all of our addictions and failures, becomes lost into the life that God will give to us. We’ll no longer be the center of our world. That job belongs to God and no one else.

When we really think about it, understanding God is a contradiction in terms. He is beyond our comprehension, after all. But, because of the way God made us, our hearts can know what our minds cannot. God, who is the ultimate above and beyond and more than us - actually, through the working of his Spirit - meets us within us, in our spirit that is. As God comes from the outside of us, and works within us we receive on the inside of us what it was that we needed in order to move up and beyond the addictions that have kept us down for so long. In short, God is the complete other than and more than what we can do in our own efforts. God will do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

In our addictions, we had become attached to things in ways that are destructive for us. When we rely on our attachments (whatever they are) to make us feel okay, we expect more from them than they can ever really give to us. God, however, is the perfect attachment because He is not addictive in any way. While the attachments that we made in our addictions end up taking more than they give, making an attachment with God will always give to us more than we can ever need. Besides, all that we are really giving to God is our addicted life and He gives back to us a life that is free, complete, and eternal in every way. When God is the center of our world, our life and world get put right, in order, complete, and powerful. Our relationship with God is the only relationship we will ever have that cannot become addictive or unhealthy in any way. This is because God is totally good. He cannot corrupt us because there is no corruption in Him. He cannot become unhealthy for us because He’s not unhealthy in any way. Sometimes, religious pride or indoctrination masquerades as God. This happens when it is based more on human intellect and reasoning than on faith in God himself. When this happens, religion becomes nothing more than religious posing and faking which is both highly destructive and addictive. If it is unhealthy or addictive, it is not of God. Sadly, religious addiction is perhaps the most insidious of all addictions.

Scripture is a rich history that tells us that God loves people who have addictions. God not only loves people like us, he likes us, too. He delights in the way we yearn to experience life in the most full way. Individually, He loves us and wants us no matter who we are or what we’ve done. We know this because there are people who’ve been addicted like us and who have discovered God’s love for themselves. Thankfully, an authentic relationship with God is not a matter of how smart we are, but how sincere we are with Him. He takes care of the rest. It’s simple, it’s effective, and it’s the way God is.

All of us, whether we recognize it or not, need God. We all need to know that someone is loving enough and powerful enough to perfectly love and care for us in the ways that we really need. Jesus is the One Person who has always known God in this way. Jesus reveals to us who God is and what He is like. God will never be exactly what we want Him to be, but He will always be what we truly need Him to be. Throughout history, as recorded in Scripture, there has been only one person whose life displayed perfection of purpose, whose death exemplified the perfection of love, and who had the power to live again after death, which has changed the course of world history and our own addicted lives. This is Jesus. Unlike all other human beings, Jesus was not addicted to anything in any way. Jesus had all of the same human attachments that we all have, but He never became addicted to his attachments because He put His full confidence in God and God, alone. Because His life was fully centered around God the entire scope of Jesus’ life was free.

Through Jesus, God embraces everyone who wants to be embraced. Showing this through the scriptural record, God, as He was living through Jesus, even forgave those who were attempting to destroy Him. Scripture tells us in Luke 23:34 that he even expressed love for those who were killing Him, because He knew and understood that they just didn’t know or understand who He was or what He was all about. After giving up His life, Jesus lived again and as He appeared to His followers, He declared once and for all that He is The One who is capable of giving life to addicted and dying people like us.

Jesus lived His life close to those who were, just like us, in desperate need of Him. In so doing He calls us to himself, to his love and to his God our Father. It is in Jesus that we can have confidence for life and recovery. Through Him we are empowered to live.

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

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

CHANGING THE WAY WE LIVE

CHANGING THE WAY WE LIVE

We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions, ugly parodies of community. I could go on. This isn’t the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God’s kingdom. But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard – things like affection for others, exuberance for life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.
Galatians 5:19–23, The Message


“A fault which humbles a man is of more use to him than a good action which puffs him up.”
- Thomas Wilson

Changing the Way We Live

It is dangerous to be unwilling to relinquish one of our character defects; it potentially sabotages our entire recovery effort. At the very least it limits our future. When we feel like we are hanging onto a character defect that we don’t want to let go of, let us admit our doubt, our fear, and the struggle and stubbornness that we know is inside of us. We admit these things to ourselves, to God and to another person. Let us pray while we admit these things, asking for God’s help starting with relieving us of the fear and the pride that weigh us down. Let us ask God to help us to let go of everything that stands between us and a closer relationship with Him.

Praying in this way assures us that we will receive what we ask for because we are praying for what we know to be God’s will for us. Knowing that God will be working in us in this way does not take away our responsibility for taking appropriate actions to deal with our character defects. We must always be people of action, effective action. When we have doubts about our conduct or character, we will find it helpful to speak with our sponsor or someone else who knows about our addictions and our desire to recover. Letting go of our character defects begins with prayer but it also includes acting and living as if God has already equipped us (and He has) to live well without them. Prayer without action is little more than mental, emotional and religious daydreaming. Our letting go of our character defects requires that we be willing to take the opposite action of the way we would act in the character defect. We reverse course, acting as if God has given us all that we need. This is called repenting in religious terms. If we want to be like Jesus, acting as if we are already becoming like Jesus is a great place to start. Over time, our honest and obedient actions will begin to change the way we think. If we want our life to change, we have to change the way we live it.

From Our Journey Home - copyright 2012, David Zailer
http://www.amazon.com/Our-Journey-Home-Inspirations-Christian/dp/0615521312/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1360013722&sr=8-1&keywords=Our+Journey+Home+by+David+Zailer

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

KEEP MAKING THE CHOICE

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.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

THE POWER OF PERFECT FAITH

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

What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!
Mark 9:23,24 NLT


“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 founder of Alcoholics Anonymous

The Power of Imperfect Faith

Coming to believe that we can be restored to sanity is an expression of faith. Faith, which is often confused with religious tradition, is more of a trust and confidence than anything else. Faith is more personal than religious, although faith may be a part of one’s religious convictions. Whereas many of us have previously experienced religion as a controlling set of rules that masquerade as belief, faith is more of a fundamental confidence that leads to effective life giving action. Religion is doing things in an attempt to make ourselves right. Faith is believing that God is making us right and this leads us to doing what is right. This is not to say that faith doesn’t play a necessary role in religion because it does. Religious people of all kinds express their faith in ways that help keep them mentally and emotionally balanced. The ways that healthy people, religious or not, live out their faith are lessons that are essential for us to learn as recovering addicts.

Faith is a trust; a trust and confidence that can be known as a deep abiding conviction of the heart and the mind. A deep abiding conviction of faith is the foundation of a healthy and happy life. It integrates the heart and the mind. Faith that is real is the abiding belief that God can and will do for us in our recovery what we have been unable to do on our own, no matter how hard we tried. Faith is a reaching out, an opening of the mind and the heart to possibilities that we had ignored or opportunities that we had refused in the past. In faith we trust in God and we trust in the people that God brings into our lives who can help us in our recovery. In faith we come to believe that God will provide all that we need to recover and that our responsibility is to simply supply the honesty, the openness and the willingness to do the work of recovery. In faith, God provides everything that we need to recover. In faith we know that if He doesn’t provide something that we think we need, we accept that we don’t really need it after all.

Real faith is honest and in touch with reality. It never defies the facts. Our friend that we read about in Mark 9, verses 22 and 23, gives an honest expression of his heart and his mind. On the one hand he cries out desperately, hoping for help for his son and at the same time expressing the weakness of his faith. He seems to be torn but really he’s just being human. Jesus recognized that amidst his struggling expression of faith he was really expressing a faithful struggle of hope and belief. Jesus knows that our honest faith is never without doubt. From this story we can learn to have faith in God’s empathetic care. We can have faith that Jesus, who the Bible says is God in human form, understands what it means to be human. He understands the struggle of faith, the faithful struggle to believe that God will connect to our weak faith all the power and resources necessary to accomplish His healing love and care in our lives. Our friend in this story seems to understand this, and it is necessary for us to understand this as well.

In Step 2, we are putting our faith in God and not in ourselves, which would lead us back to our addictions. Nor is our faith in our own faith which is nothing more than wishful thinking and superstition. In Step 2 we just believe, as faithfully as we can, that God will come through for us. It’s really very simple. A weak faith that trusts in a loving and powerful God is more than sufficient to meet any of the demands that we will face in our recovery. And, as we struggle faithfully to believe in God’s care and love we can know from this Scriptural record that Jesus will carefully give us all that we need just as he did for our friend in the scripture. Our faith doesn’t need to be perfect because our faith is in God. He takes care of the rest.


Monday, July 18, 2016

BE STILL, BE QUIET, LISTEN

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.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

RECOVERY IS A GIFT, BUT IT IS NOT FREE

We made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:23, 24, NIV

Our privileges can be no greater than our obligations. The protection of our rights can endure no longer than the performance of our responsibilities.
- John F. Kennedy

Recovery is a Gift, But it is Not Free

The kind of work that we do in our recovery program helps us to better recognize the work of God in our lives. We can now begin to see that we have been made for supernatural purposes and that it is possible for us to fulfill the destiny that God has planned for us.

God created us with a plan. He has divine purposes in mind. As we prepare ourselves to make amends, God is preparing us to pass on to others some of the goodness that He has given us. Our life, addiction and recovery is all part of God’s plan. He is the master creator who specializes in bringing goodness out of tragedy. This is what our Step Eight recovery work is all about – turning bad into good. It is all about the turning of bad into good. We are now ready to begin directing goodness into the lives of others whereas before it had been directed into our own lives. Our personality, our talent and our charm will never be enough to do this. We will have to have God’s help and He will be sure to give it to us. Our friends and loved ones need a love that is not based on who we are. They need a love that is based on who it is that we are created for. Any attempts that we make by our own power alone, no matter how great, sincere or committed will inevitably become little more than co-dependency without the connection of real love, which only comes from God.

The power to love and live well is a gift from God and it comes with profound. spiritual and social responsibilities. God provides the power but we are totally involved; the part we play is indispensable. Our place in the universe begins to make sense as we begin to figure this out. As we develop authentic, God-centered relationships, we become whole and well-balanced human beings that are able to live out our responsibilities and fully enjoy the pleasure of giving and receiving.

Our job and responsibility at this point in time is to make a list of the people whom we have hurt. There are no excuses. No ifs, ands, or buts. Excuses, procrastination and delay for any reason are understandable, but unacceptable. Excuses stop our recovery dead in its tracks. There is no reason to delay.

List names of people we have harmed.


Monday, June 27, 2016

REACHING OUT FOR HEALING

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

Jesus answered them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent." Luke 5:31,32 NLT

“Grace strikes us when we are in great pain and restlessness… . Sometimes at that moment a wave of light breaks into our darkness, and it is though a voice were saying: ‘You are accepted.’” -Paul Tillich

Reaching Out for Healing

It is not likely that anyone will visit a doctor when he is healthy. It’s only the weak and suffering who need a doctor’s care. In the past we have denied the sickness and suffering in our lives but in Step 1 we admitted our problems and we accepted the fact that we could not manage our lives on our own. After all, it’s been the pain from our addictions that’s motivated us to get help. Furthermore, we have to be honest with others if we really want to recover. We must honestly admit our problems in order to get the help that will help us to change. Only a crazy person would go to a doctor and then not be honest about what he really needed.

God is the Great Physician, the One who will ultimately heal us from our addictions. In Scripture we have a historical record of how God has healed the sick and suffering through the person and life of Jesus Christ. In Jesus, God never turned away from those in need. When people in pain came to God with their hopeful sincerity he always responded by healing them. Jesus, in giving God’s grace, not only cured the outer illnesses, He healed internal illnesses as well. The healing that Jesus offered to others helps us to understand that we are loved and accepted by God, and that his love and acceptance is available to us even before we knew that we needed it. As God heals us internally, spiritually we receive an empowerment that helps us to heal emotionally and psychologically. Spiritual health and psychological health go hand in hand. This hand in hand kind of health is the unifying, integrating work of grace.

Today God continues to work through human beings. Just as Jesus heals us for eternity, there are people who can help heal us in our day-to-day lives. In order for us to recover from our addictions, it is necessary for us to seek out and accept help from various God-given resources like medical doctors, mental health professionals and recovery support groups. These people and organizations are the most common ways that God help us recover from our addictions. They are to us on a day to day level what Jesus is to us on the eternal and spiritual level. As God through Jesus heals us internally, these people help us to see the acceptance of God and His love and healing become a reality in our lives every day. Remember, no one recovers alone.

OUR JOURNEY HOME
Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery
Copyright David Zailer, 2011