Tuesday, February 28, 2017

THE SOURCE OF OUR STRENGTH

We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for. I John 5:14,15, NLT

A great turning point in our lives came when we sought for humility as something we really wanted, rather than as something we must have. It marked the time when we could commence to see the full implication of Step Seven. - Alcoholics Anonymous, page 75, AA 12 & 12

The Source of Our Strength

We have, albeit unintentionally, created the problems that we have in our character. Now we are asking God, with as much humility as possible, to resolve the problems that stand in the way of us experiencing all that God has for us. Before, we had spent much of our lives and energy attempting to overcome what we could never overcome in our own power. But today, as we surrender our lives to God and humbly ask Him to remove our shortcomings, we discover a strength that is unlike anything that we have ever encountered before. Only in God, and through the help of others, will we receive the strength and the endurance to continuously let go of our character defects and our addictions.

Nothing in our recovery work is magical or unreal. We will forever be human and prone to all of our human inadequacies. As much as we may wish it to be different, not all of our character defects will be removed from us. The work that God is doing in our hearts and minds will be part of His overall purposes. So, we will help ourselves the most when we accept the consequences that we have created for ourselves without complaint so that we can enjoy the benefit of lessons learned once and for all.

There will be times when we try to get rid of our character defects and fail, sometimes repeatedly. We will inevitably find ourselves in situations where we have to choose between trusting God amidst our repeated attempts of trying and failing, and the certain penalty of failing to try, which is in and of itself a failure to trust God. What we choose to do with failure is perhaps the most profound indicator of who we are and who we will become. Failure with effort can be a frustrating setback. The setbacks and disappointments create the sad feeling inside of us that we may never overcome our problems. This is where we will need help from our friends in recovery and from God himself. We will have our setbacks. We will try and fail sometimes. But, let us stay honest and let us stay motivated because our own fatal failure is giving up. Failure to try is suicide. It is here, in our failures and setbacks, that we learn to keep turning to God, time after time, and in so doing we learn to experience Him to be our Source, our Strength and our Joy.

Available through book retailers

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

MOVING FORWARD, BACK INTO RELATIONSHIP

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

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.
Deuteronomy 31:6, NIV


“Until you conquer the fear of being an outsider, an outsider you will remain."
- C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

Moving Forward, Back into Relationship

We are going to make more and more amazing discoveries as we continue to make a list of the people we have harmed. One of these discoveries will be when we realize how incredible it is that there is anyone who loves us at all, considering the way that we have treated others in the past. However, at the same time, as we face the facts of our self-centeredness in more realistic ways, we will also learn that we have always been loved far more than we could ever understand, because of God and the love He has shown to us. Recognizing our depraved nature in contrast to God’s forgiving love enlightens us to a new way of thinking and operating. Fear becomes displaced by courage. Our relationships are affected for the better. We can positively relate with others today in ways that would have been impossible before because of our fear of being hurt and rejected. But, there is a new kind of power inside of us now. The life we live is no longer our own. God, through His love, has taken us over.

Following through with the change that is happening inside of us, we begin to treat people differently, respectfully. The first thing we must do to make amends to others is to stop hurting them. In the past we treated others the way they treated us, but now we will treat others the way God has treated us -- respectfully; whether they deserve it or not. What others do to us and how they treat us is much less important now. We hope that others will give us love and respect, but if not, we won’t need to get upset, retaliate or fall into self-pity anymore. Our desire is to simply love others with the same love that we have received from God and others. We don’t have to manufacture this love, we just pass it along. We share what we have been given. Thinking in this way helps us to set aside our fears of rejection; then we will be able to do for others what God, our sponsors and our counselors have done for us.

Motivated by the love we have discovered, coupled with the commitment to change the generational patterns that our families have developed, we set some boundaries for ourselves and we accept boundaries that others place on us. Then, we take these next steps forward. First, we became willing to make amends to those we hurt -- unconditionally. Second, we became willing to recognize and accept healthy limitations and to make “living amends” by the way that we relate to others in the future. Hopefully we have learned not to profess our “good intentions.” We don’t make promises, especially promises that we cannot guarantee. Instead, let us make good actions and let those actions speak for us.

If we ever refuse an opportunity to make a wrong right, we shut the doors and windows of the spiritual home that God is building within us. Nothing gets in and nothing gets out. Darkness begins to close in and we will miss the leading of God’s Spirit. Without the benefit of God’s Spirit leading us, we will inevitably create more of the chaos that we are trying to avoid.

So, let us take what we have learned and move it from our head to our heart and from our heart to our feet, where relationships are renewed step by step. With our feet of action placed firmly on God and a supportive recovery fellowship, we will find the stability that we need to make our lives, and the lives of others, change for the better.  Everybody wins!

Available from all major book sellers

Thursday, February 16, 2017

PRAYER MAKES US REAL

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."

Keep on asking, and you will be given what you ask for. Keep on looking and you will find. Keep on knocking and the door will be opened. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And the door is opened to everyone who knocks.
Matthew 7:7-8, NLT


“Instead of all these, the answer that he gives, I think, is himself. If we go to him for anything else, he may send us away empty or he may not. But if we go to him for himself, I believe that we go away always with this deepest of all our hungers filled.”
- Frederick Buechner, The Magnificent Defeat

Prayer Makes Us Real

Everyone prays. We all pray in way or another, often without realizing it. Instinctively, we have the need to connect with permanence, and prayer can be considered as our personal attempt to reach and touch eternity. Prayer helps us make sense of our lives. It helps us sort through tragedy and heartbreak and locate the treasures that are hidden inside of misfortune.

Many of us have been trained to think of prayer as a religious activity or duty. Somewhere along the way we were sold a bill of goods. Someone convinced us that prayer had to be done in a certain way that was scripted or traditional according to certain previously defined standards. This is not true. Prayer is never limited in any way because God is not limited in any way. Prayer may be well planned or it may be spontaneous. It may be formal or it may be casual and conversational. It may be traditional and religious or it may be radical. Prayer can be expressed in many different ways and it is always real and effective as long as we are real and sincere with it. Prayer is not a matter of technique. It is a matter of attitude and openness.

The impact of prayer is reduced if we think of it as a demand or a duty that is required of us. We objectify prayer, we objectify God and we objectify ourselves if prayer is ever reduced to anything less than an act of intimacy. When reduced, prayer becomes nothing more important than washing dishes or making beds. And while these are obviously very good and very necessary things, they are not the things that help us, heal us or bring us into closeness with God. Prayer is more of an opportunity. It is a calling. It is a picking up of the ringing phone and completing the connection that God has made available to us through Christ. Prayer is the way we engage God at a personal intimate level. And while we are engaging God through prayer, we are engaging ourselves at a personal and intimate level too.

Prayer is a dialogue. It puts us at the kitchen table with coffee mug in hand, ready to enjoy a special closeness with our loved one. It is cognitive and intuitive. It’s a spiritual openness that increases our oneness with God and with ourselves. Prayer ushers us into private communion with The Perfect Father - God. And while He is perfect, our prayers don’t need to be perfect. The only thing prayer needs to be is real. What we don’t know how to say, God’s Spirit will say for us. He understands everything, even the things we do not know or cannot express. Prayer, in essence, breaks the silence. It closes the distance between God and us. It heals our splintered hearts and our broken minds. It helps us to know what we feel and it helps us to think better. Prayer fulfills our need to be known. Prayer teaches us to accept God’s unconditional approval and it teaches us to accept ourselves at the same time. Prayer teaches us to recognize treasures that we have not noticed before. We will be able to make sense of difficulties and hardships. Praying privately helps us to be more honest and more true to ourselves. It opens us up. It is the sound we make – the spiritual sound – when we don’t know what to say or how to say it.

Prayer catapults us into the frontier of an authentic spiritual life.


available through all book sellers

Thursday, February 2, 2017

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 more names of people we have harmed.


Available through major book retailers