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Archive for July, 2010


Refer to STEP 10: I choose to believe God still has a purpose for my life—a purpose for good and not evil.

Salvation is easy—it doesn’t require a thing from either you or me. That’s God’s part. He did it all; that’s what love, mercy, and grace are all about. That He loved you at your most unlovely spot is the essence of Christianity—what makes it so unique and special. At least, that’s what it is supposed to be about. That God was willing to reach down, touch you at your most vulnerable spot, and lift you up is what makes having a relationship with Him so desirable. Once that happens, regardless of how others attempt to interpret it, you are a child of His and always will be.

Unfortunately, people tend to forget the tenderness of their own experience, choosing instead to regiment a dynamic relationship, which can never be done successfully. Through their efforts, they make Christianity hard, rigid, unyielding, and unforgiving. They try and make a deeply personal experience into something cold, austere, and systematic.

If a Christian is smug and self-righteous, legalistic and condemning, haughty and judgmental, then how attractive is that? Not very—most people run from such an unappealing lifestyle. Who can blame them?

You recognize the type of people I’m describing—the heartlessly religious who are never wrong about anything. Sadly, Christianity has far too many people like these. They are the ones who condemn homosexuals, telling them they deserve to have AIDS. They call women who have aborted their babies murderers, forgetting that they, too, were no better.

The self-righteous lift up a version of Christ that is not the New Testament version—not even close, and yet these are the people most feared in churches—people eager to share their exacting, unyielding opinions. Their bitter sting keeps many from embracing God’s love, acceptance, and mercy.

That’s why being in recovery has such value. You’ve had to lean on God more than most. If you display love, joy, long suffering, and a genuine concern for those in need, then you are lifting up Christ the way you’re meant to, and that’s very attractive to hurting, desperate people searching for answers.

The choice is yours. If you’re smug and self-righteous, you will have a great impact for God—a negative impact. If you display love and graciousness, your impact will be positive.

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Lord, I tell everyone I’m honest;

And they agree that I am.

I smile and believe it’s true,

At least most of the time.

I would never steal or defraud another,

Telling myself that this is true honesty.

But when I look into Your face,

I know that’s just part of it,

A small, small part of it.

I put on airs and a facade of confidence

To mask what’s really inside.

At times, I believe everyone can see me for who I am,

But they never do.

I’ve become too adept at camouflage,

Too good at masking the real me.

Lord, give me the strength to be real

To be vulnerable, to be myself,

Regardless of what others might think,

Regardless of what others might say.

Give me the courage to be true to myself,

To be true to You, and to what I really believe.

Strengthen me with power in the inner man.

Help me to be open and vulnerable.

It’s so easy to follow the flow,

Pretending I’m someone that I’m not.

But I don’t like myself

When I’m like that,

And I’m sure it displeases You as well.

That’s why I need You so much.

I need You to help me be myself,

And to be the best version of who I truly am.

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Refer to Step 9: I humbly ask God to change anything He wishes, and I ask Him to heal my pain.

Every act of creation is first an act of destruction.

—Pablo Picasso—

Being pruned by God is a way of life for His children—a way the Scriptures say we should embrace. In my own experience, as someone who wants to be everything God wants me to be, I have prayed, Father, do whatever you want with me. I accept all of it graciously, willingly.

Such prayers seem so noble when we say them, but then the Lord comes with the intention of making us more productive. When that happens—when His pruning process begins, we scream Holy Murder! The pain is often so intense that we’re certain we cannot make it through. We are all for pruning—just as long as it’s not too painful.

But that’s not the way the Lord works. The Scriptures teach that God is a consuming fire, which is most often associated with judgment, but it can also refer to purification. To get us where He wants us to be, He burns away everything that can prevent us from becoming stronger, more resilient people. By the time He’s finished, most feel like they’ve been whittled down to nothing and that there is little left.

We see this process through our eyes; He sees it through His. To make us stronger, better people, He engineers our circumstances to put us in a position where we have no alternative other than to trust Him. When this happens—and it happens to every child of God—it feels very destructive, and it is. That is, until something new emerges—a person with far more estimable character qualities than ever before.

Therefore, let the Lord do with you as He may. He’s going to anyway, regardless of whether you like it or not. When the process is complete, you’ll like what you see—so will others.

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Refer to Step 10: I choose to believe God still has a purpose for my life—a purpose for good and not evil.

Part of becoming the person God created you to be concerns how you relate to others. For people of faith, practicing discernment is part of our everyday walk with the Lord. Unfortunately, it’s the area where more problems are created than resolved.

The reason for this is simple: people use their discernment to find fault with others, criticizing them, rather than lifting that person up to the Lord in prayer. Or, if they do pray for the person, they pray about what God needs to do to fix them—what He needs to do to straighten them out. This not only doesn’t work well, it comes off as being superior, and arrogant prayers are never well received by the Lord.

Whenever the Lord reveals Himself to a person, the person is completely undone. He or she instantly sees themselves for who they are, and there is no hiding from the eyes of our God who is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. When this happens—when God reveals you to yourself—everything changes. You see yourself as you really are, rather than the image you try to protect to others. You know you are not where you need to be, and that’s when God transforms your heart, making you much more like Him than you’ve ever been.

From then on, when you perceive flaws in others, you don’t scold and chide—either in your prayers or in your mind. You lift that person up, asking God to intervene in their lives to make them what He wants them to be, rather than what you think they should be. That’s when your recovery has real value to you and to others as well.



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A Prayer about Praying


Lord, when I pray;

Quiet my heart.

Let my heart be peaceful

With the world and with myself

When I come before you.


Too often, my prayers are all about me;

What I need;

What I want;

What You must do to grant my wishes.


I know that’s not the way

It’s supposed to be,

But I have to be honest

With myself and especially with You.


Father, I admit my prayers are often selfish,

Consumed with my needs, my wants, and my problems.

I know that’s not the way

It’s supposed to be,

But I have to be honest

With myself and especially with You.

Lord, You’re so patient with me;

So gentle, so kind.


Teach me Your ways.

Teach me to put the needs of others above my own;

Teach me to lift up others

And to love them as I love myself.

Let my thoughts and my prayers

Seek the best for those in distress.


Teach me to place the needs of others

above my own. For I know

that this will enrich my character,

which is pleasing to You. I want to be a better person,

A person pleasing to You.

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Refer to Step 11: I make a commitment to nurture my relationship with God, asking Him to reveal His will to me and to give me the power to carry it out.

In the aftermath of religious abuse—or any kind of abuse, an interesting phenomenon occurs. I call it “Piling On.” It’s where many others in the organization, perhaps all, join in with the religious abuser, pouring out rejection, castigation, and often false witness—all of which is perceived as justified by the religious group.

This kind of corporate abuse sends the abusee into a tailspin from which few ever return to a healthy walk with God. Most of those doing the piling on don’t think about their actions seriously enough to realize the full impact of their rejecting behavior, but the person to whom its directed feels it acutely. It wounds them at the core of their existence.

Tragically, church people do this so frequently that it’s one of the characteristics non-believers recognize the most about them. Calling Christians hypocrites as a result, they point the same condemning finger that Christians point. Church people—never recognizing how un-Christlike such condemnation is—circle their wagons, mutually reinforcing each other as being “right.” They have made a stand for Jesus. Having done the right thing, their attitude is, let the chips fall where they may.

When this happens, and it happens routinely, an opportunity for kindness, help, and reconciliation has been lost, reinforcing another legalistic moment in the world.

In recovery, one of the first lessons to learn is this: If you’re going to err, err on the side of being merciful rather than on the side of being right. God’s kingdom is full of Pharisee’s. What is needed are people who can recognize the problem and yet not point a condemning finger. If this happens, real caring and healing can occur. Because recovering people have had similar experiences, it’s up to people like us—the walking wounded—to set the standard higher.

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A Prayer about Serving Others


Father,

Allow me to serve others with a joyful heart;

Never keeping score;

Always giving;

Never expecting to receive.

Allow me to give of myself,

To give of my talents and of my goods,

To give of my time and of my energy,

To give of my heart and of my soul.

Help me understand the needs of others,

Never criticizing,

Never demeaning,

Never scolding,

Never condemning.

You have been so gracious to me,

Always Loving,

Always forgiving,

Always restoring;

Never gloating over my defeats,

Even when I have been so wrong.

Father, keep a condemning spirit

Far from my heart and further from my lips.

Allow me to serve others as You serve,

With gentleness, compassion, and tenderness,

Never diminishing the worth of another,

Choosing to extend mercy to the brokenhearted,

Like You have repeatedly shown it to me,

Amen.

Jack Watts   

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