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Archive for November, 2012


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

 

Contemplation must bring forth right action in order to permit further growth.

—Robert A. Heinlein

Regardless of what you say or how persuasive you might be, it’s what you do that speaks volumes about who you really are.

In your recovery, doing God’s will is your responsibility—not just talking about it. At the same time, it’s important to realize you are not God, and He is perfectly capable of being God without your help. He’s responsible for drawing people to Himself—not you. When you try and make God’s responsibility yours, it doesn’t work. All hell breaks loose, instead.

Pushing Jesus, regardless of how noble your intention may be, ultimately produces alienation. Attraction works—promotion doesn’t. Lifting up the Lord is not promotion. Lifting Him up draws people to Him, which leads others to a restored life.

If you care for your fellow man; if you have compassion for abused people—for those caught in addiction, despair, and acting-out behavior; if you routinely display the fruit of the Spirit; you are doing God’s will. By loving others selflessly, you are a witness every day of your life—whether you utter a word or not. You just don’t realize it most of the time.

If your walk with the Lord is marginal, if your beliefs are not well thought out, and if you are unwilling to have your faith challenged, your witness is weak, and the fruit you produce will not be bitter and not sweet. That’s why most people in recovery need to work on the fundamentals—walking in God’s leading and learning to love one another from the heart. It’s a strategy that works every time.

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. (Ephesians 5:1-2)

Jack Watts   Recommended Resources

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Refer to Step 8: I will share my experience and my own wrongdoing with a trusted friend, confessing the exact state of my heart.

 

We are attracted to people who share in our growth and progress and lose interest in those who don’t.

—Recovery Quote

In every 12-step group, finding a sponsor is one of the essential steps to recovery. Usually, the sponsor has substantial time in the program—either alcohol or drug free—and has worked the steps to achieve a level of stability that someone new to the program can find beneficial. A sponsor is the first line of defense to keep a person from relapsing. Additionally, a sponsor is the person you are supposed to call before you pick up a drink or start using drugs—not after you do.

In recovery from religious abuse, having a sponsor is not as critical for recovery, but developing a support system of like-minded people certainly is. In this recovery system, the emphasis isn’t on stopping addictive behavior but on reconnecting with God in a rich and meaningful way.

Having people in your life who have had a similar experience can help your recovery, just as long as that person has worked through his or her own issues, especially bitterness and estrangement from God. Finding such people can be difficult. Most do not deal with their issues by being open and honest about them, choosing to suppress them instead. Perhaps it’s because they are too proud to admit they need help.

Nevertheless, it’s essential to develop relationships with fellow believers—those who will listen to you without scolding or being judgmental. It may take you a while to find someone like this, but when you do, you will recognize his or her value quickly. While looking for this person, be sure to be circumspect, knowing that Christians can be some of the harshest, most legalistic people on earth. If you detect even a hint of a critical spirit in the person, don’t allow yourself to be vulnerable. That would be unwise.

Encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today” lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. (Hebrews 3:13)

Jack Watts   Recommended Resources

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Refer to Step 5: I recognize the only way back to a productive life is exactly the way I came. I have to repair my relationship with God and make amends with everyone I have wronged along the way.

It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness.

—Leo Tolstoy

We live in an era when Christianity has become a vestige of what it once was—trite, simplistic, and deeply hypocritical. The richness, which once typified people of faith, has been replaced by Christian legalism and plastic faith that buckles under pressure. Looking good to one’s peers is more highly valued than doing the right thing.

Nearly everybody realizes this is true, but few are willing to be straightforward and admit it. By trying to maintain the illusion of “having it all together,” when nothing could be further from the truth, Christianity has lost its sense of direction, as millions of church-going people look out-of-touch and outdated to those who operate from a secular mindset. Secularists, refusing to be fundamentally dishonest about what they witness, have come to dismiss Christianity as irrelevant.

Those of us who have been wounded by the church have a similar mindset. We don’t think the religious leaders in our lives are hypocritical; we know it. Being embittered by our experience, many who have been wounded—people like you and me—have chosen to pursue our lives knowing that God is real but remaining aloof from seeking His counsel. We are still willing to give Him a nod of the head, but we have stopped bending our knees in submission to Him as we once did.

This is why recovery is critical for wounded believers like us. As part of our recovery, we know the value of rigorous honesty, which was once an integral part of Christianity instead of legalism. We know that without being forthright, especially about our shortcomings, we will remain hopelessly mired in mediocrity.

This is why we have more to offer than those who look good on the outside but have marginal character qualities on the inside. God needs tough people; and with all you’ve been through, you qualify to be one of the people He needs the most. The question is, will you be there for Him, as He has been there for you?

Now flee from youthful lusts, and pursue after righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. (II Timothy 2:22)

Jack Watts   Recommended Resources

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Refer to Step 3: I accept that the responsibility for getting back on track is mine and no one else’s.

 

Even if you are on the right track, you will get run over if you just sit there.

—Will Rogers

By the time I was thirty-three, after having established my relationship with God as foundational years earlier, one might expect that I was a well-established man with strong character qualities, but that was not the case. In nearly every area of life, I was still a little boy who happened to look like a man. I was just floating along, buoyed by good looks, charm, and a great smile, but I had also become a master at manipulating people to get my way.

I learned to talk the talk, but whenever difficulty came my way, I carefully skirted it, choosing evasion of responsibility over facing life on life’s terms. When my luck ran out and I was forced to make some difficult choices, I made a determination to be the person God created me to be, regardless of the price that had to be paid to accomplish the task.

After making that decision, life was difficult for years but, because I had so little practice at living responsibly, it was much harder than it needed to be. The maturity I achieved came in a concentrated form, with the pressure remaining constant.

Now, many years later, I am an adult in every sense of the word, having character qualities that have been forged in God’s winepress of adversity. It was a painful experience, but from the Divine standpoint, absolutely necessary. Without it, I would still have my gray hair, but all I would be is a little boy who looked like a grown up. The world is full of men who have never grown up. In America, there is a great surplus of them—that’s for sure.

At long last, however, I can say that I’m no longer one of them. I owe that to God’s faithfulness and my commitment to recovery. In my case, I needed to recover from alcoholism as well as from religious abuse, but I’ve done it successfully for years—one day at a time.

As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there be waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ. (Ephesians 4:15-16)

Jack Watts   Recommended Resources

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Father,

I want to control the outcome

Of events that impact my life.

You know that the desire of my heart

Is for You to orchestrate circumstances,

Which will allow me to get my own way.

When that doesn’t happen,

Which seems to be far too often,

I become sulky, peevish, and petulant.

I resent that You will not make Your will mine,

Even though my desires may not be in line with Yours.

When I behave like a child, I think like one as well,

Never acknowledging how juvenile I’ve become.

It doesn’t occur to me until after my fretful emotions

Have run the gambit and I am spent—

Emotionally exhausted from dictating to You.

At the end of it all, like always,

I become sorrowful, realizing that

You are God, and I am not.

Forgive me for my waywardness, and restore

To me a sense of humility and equilibrium.

Teach me to focus on my part alone—

Which are the things that I can control—

Rather than all of the things I cannot.

Jack Watts

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Father,

Lord, my days are in Your hands, and You alone know

When the time for my deliverance will come.

Until that time, I know what I must do.

I must relentlessly press forward

And never, never, never, never give up.

Question: Is this how you think? How quickly do you give up on your dreams, calling them unrealistic and unattainable? Is this an area of your life that needs improvement?

Adversity is a way of life in recovery—a constant that needs to be recognized and accepted. An easier, softer way just isn’t in the cards. The trick is to look at life from a growth perspective and not as an end result. You may never win the game, but you can always be a winner in the process—if you keep at it, taking life one day at a time.

Question: When apprehension becomes overwhelming, say to yourself: “I’ll do the next right thing—one day at a time.” Will you make the effort to do that?

When you first believed, God gave you a spirit of love, power, and of a disciplined, sound mind. It resides just below the surface of your troubled heart, waiting for you to do the work necessary to appropriate the inner power that rightfully belongs to you—just as it does for all of God’s children.

Question: Do you rely believe that God has given you a sound mind? Is this a real, tangible promise or just a noble idea?

 

If I can be there for you, reaching out to you with words of encouragement and exhortation, it makes my abuse worthwhile. There’s so much pain and suffering—so much dysfunction—in the lives of nearly everybody I meet that experiences such as mine can and should be very uplifting.

Journal: React to the paragraph above. Write about how you feel about it and about how it might apply to you.

We’re in trouble because Christianity has more weak, Scripturally ignorant, morally corrupt, worldly-minded materialists than those who will stand by their convictions, regardless of the price they have to pay for doing so. To make matters worse, those who appear to be strong are often so self-righteous and judgmental that they turn off more people than they influence.

Journal: Write about this paragraph as well, making sure to either agree or disagree with it, naming your reasons.

Jack Watts   Recommended Resources

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

 

I slept, and dreamed that life was Beauty;

I woke, and found that life was Duty.

—Ellen Sturgis Hooper

Every Sunday morning, you can go to thousands of churches across America and listen to a diatribe about what’s wrong with our nation. During some times of the year, it would be difficult to find a church where “Jeremiads” are not being preached. Nearly all of these messages place blame upon liberals, progressives, political correctness, and increasing godlessness in America. It’s rare for a church to cast the blame where it belongs—upon Christians like us, but I believe that’s where it resides.

We’re in trouble because Christianity has more weak, Scripturally ignorant, morally corrupt, worldly-minded materialists than those who will stand by their convictions, regardless of the price they have to pay for doing so. To make matters worse, those who appear to be strong are often so self-righteous and judgmental that they turn off more people than they influence.

For society to transform, something has to change, and we are the ones who need to change—not hedonists and liberals. They never change. We’re the independent variable, not them.

We bemoan how far America has strayed from our noble origins. That may be true, but it’s the strength of Christians that has changed—not the influence of non-believers. If righteousness is to return to America, Christians must be the ones leading the way, but we have to do it from the inside out. Self-righteous condemnation of others will not get the job done. Neither will increasing church membership with people who haven’t a clue about who Christ really is and what He expects of His disciples. We already have enough of them.

The fruits of our lives— individually and collectively—must exemplify love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, mercy, and other positive character qualities of Christ’s followers throughout the centuries. If we do this, a plethora of leaders with renewed minds will arise out of our midst. If not, we’ll continue to spit in the wind at the liberals with predictable results.

He has told you O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)

Jack Watts

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