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One of the most popular verses of the Bible is John 3:16. Some of us remember the guy with the rainbow wig holding a John 3:16 sign in the end zone at professional football games. Until I became a believer and read the Bible, I didn’t know what the sign meant but then found out that it is this somewhat famous verse:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16, emphasis added).
I am emphasizing the connection between love and giving that is evident in this verse and many others, including this: “And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour” (Ephesians 5:2).
True love will involve giving, which seems plain enough. The problem comes from my tendency to pair giving with another word: receiving. Giving and receiving. When I give, what will I receive? This...
Whether it’s the force of gravity, entropy, or the curse, there is always resistance in life. We talk about taking the path of least resistance or taking the easy way out. Most advertising is geared toward comfort and entertainment, things that avoid resistance. The flesh certainly doesn’t like resistance.
People don’t naturally like resistance. It’s easier to “go with the flow” but that usually means going backwards. Of course a life with no resistance equates to becoming fat, lazy, passive, and unfulfilled. To have a meaningful, purposeful life will require facing and overcoming resistance.
Addictions are the result of avoiding resistance. That is why I don’t promise an easy path to sobriety and recovery. There is a lot of help available and sobriety and recovery are certainly God’s will, but you will surely experience a lot of resistance in the process. You might as well face it and use it to your benefit....
It is not unusual to get stuck in the recovery process. This can take the form of stronger-than-usual temptations and cravings, boredom, loneliness, and sometimes slips and relapses. The best solution can be to double down on good recovery activities: call your sponsor, attend extra meetings, and spend more time with addiction recovery resources like books, counselors, etc.
But what if you are doing the right things, but still feel like you aren’t making the progress that you should be? It could be that you are spending too much time on recovery topics. It may be time to explore some growth topics and activities that aren’t directly related to addiction recovery. It may be time to expand your focus to include other things.
The first few times that I drove a car, my eyes would look at the hood, trying to keep the car lined up with my lane. The instructor said, No, look farther out to where you want the car to go. That will keep you in your lane.
For much of my driving...
When working the steps in 12-Step programs, we do a lot of writing. The first step requires us to write about our sordid past (and often current) behaviors in order to drive home the concept of powerlessness. Step 4 requires a written inventory of our past and current resentments and character defects so we can surrender them to God. In step 8, we make a list of all of the people we have harmed—and that can require a lot of writing—to prepare to make amends to them.
These are very valuable exercises with great outcomes, but it occurred to me that not much writing is done about the future. What are my desired outcomes and what kind of a person do I want to be? I know where I have been, where I am now, but where am I going? Where do I want to go? Who do I want to become?
I am particularly concerned about this because I am aware of the stalled progress I sometimes see in my 12-Step program. There are people with decades of recovery that still seem to be stuck and give the...
My friend Tim recently posted on Facebook and concluded with this: “The final chapter of your life has not yet been written.” I like this very much and believe it is a good thing to live by. It helps me to understand that the race is not finished and there is much more to be done in us and by us.
It is easy to lose sight of the bias we have for positive change. Many of us know the verse that says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). But it is directly connected to the following verse:
“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29).
I think we can agree that we each have a ways to go before we are conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. But that is exactly what God has in mind for us that are His children. These two verses together...
Lasting growth and change requires letting go, surrendering, giving up control. The very first reading at each of my 12-step meetings is a reminder of this: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” If this prayer is going to be answered—and if growth and change are my true desires—then I have to let some things go.
Surrender can have the image of me standing with a weapon over my head, ready to yield to an enemy. It implies defeat, capture, and a loss of freedom. But there is a positive side to this: the enemy that I am surrendering to may be better than the current ally that I am serving. It is said that in some wars, enemy combatants were surrendering in droves because they were fighting for oppressive regimes and knew that they were better off in the hands of their captors.
This picture is quite accurate in my relationship to God. It’s hard to...
Oftentimes people dismiss something, saying that it didn’t work. “Yes, I have a drinking problem, but I tried AA and it didn’t work.” “I tried Christianity but it didn’t work for me.” “I have had this destructive habit most of my life. I have tried everything, but nothing seems to work.” I have felt this way before and I am sure many of you have had similar experiences. Here are some things that explain why we are often disappointed by programs and organizations that are supposed to help us.
It’s easy to become excited and hopeful about something new—a church, a book, a program, or an organization, etc.—that we think will help us. We want to change something in our lives and we cling to the hope that we have finally found the elusive answer, the key that will unlock the solution.
We soon spot the flaws—in the program, the people, or both—and become disillusioned and...
Getting sober is the first, most important order of business for a person that is addicted. Traditional 12-Step groups have good methods to get you sober: get a sponsor, attend and participate in meetings, make phone calls, work the steps, etc. Being radical is encouraged; for example do a “90 in 90”—that is, attend 90 meetings in 90 days. Early in my recovery, I was so desperate to get sober that I was attending 5 or 6 meetings a week.
The saying is that the program “works if you work it.” But what if you are having trouble staying consistently sober? Why do relapses seem so horribly defeating? Why is it hard to get traction and maintain consistent sobriety?
Let me relate my personal experience. I entered my 12-Step program in May of 2016 and had 11 months of consecutive sobriety. At that point, I had become a little proud and complacent and allowed an “I got this” attitude to creep in. I went on a weekend retreat, stayed alone in a hotel...
In Identity - Part 1, I talked about the importance of “I am” statements and how they relate to personal identity and behavior. I have given a lot of thought to my own identity and what is really true about me.
For me as a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, it has to start with my identity in Christ and how God sees me. If you aren’t born again spiritually, this approach may not make sense to you, and I suggest that you read the posts on salvation.
Most of these are personalizations of scriptural statements that I have written in my journal. Because of the power of “I am” statements, I have tried to phrase them that way. The idea isn’t necessarily for you to take my statements as your own, but just to give you an example of what I see as my true identity. However, these things are as true for any believer as they are for me.
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in...
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