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Archive for May, 2015


Obviously, you do not want to be needlessly cruel, but you must always be straightforward with the truth. If this is what you want—to be helpful rather than a hindrance—join me in this prayer:

 

Father,

I see my friend in need, and I want to help.

Like a mother with a small child, I want

To kiss her bruise and make it better, but I can’t.

The problem is much more serious,

And I cannot control the outcome,

Although doing so is definitely what I want to do.

I see how self-destructive my friend has become,

But my soothing interventions have not worked.

I fear my graciousness has done nothing more

Than enabled her to continue pursuing a life

Of degradation and ruin, ending in premature death.

 

Father, empower me help my friend.

Give me strength to speak out boldly

With the truth, rather than with soothing words

That makes her alcoholism seem less serious

Than it really is. Give me wisdom and love,

Coupled with penetrating truth, so that

I can be useful rather than a hindrance,

Amen

 

Blessed are they who keep my ways.

Heed instruction and be wise,

And do not neglect it, (Proverbs 8:32b-33. NAS).

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Half Measures Availed Us Nothing—AA Slogan

Alcoholics rarely acknowledge they are living in denial. In fact, they will do almost anything to avoid “getting real.” There is a reason for this. They love the darkness, rather than the light. There is also a reason why they love the darkness. Their deeds are evil.

At the same time, they are perfectly willing to allow people to know them—but just at a superficial level. Alcoholics want you to believe that, the image of who they portray themselves to be, is who they really are, but it never is. As often as not, it is the complete opposite, but they become very adept at masquerading the truth. Because they are terrified for you to really know them, especially their weaknesses, they become experts at camouflaging the truth.

They avoid true intimacy at all costs because they cannot handle vulnerability. It rattles them like nothing else. Despite how alcoholics feel about being vulnerable, straightforward, and honest, it is absolutely necessary for them to get well. There can be no permanent recovery without “coming clean.”

This is what makes a fearless moral inventory of exactly who they are so important. Alcoholics must do this, and those around them must insist that they do. Half measures will not work. Fearless honesty is required.

Interestingly, those who love the alcoholic the most often become the greatest obstacles, often getting in the way of sobriety. They provide cover for the alcoholic, believing they are doing God’s will, while they are actually doing the work of the Devil. By helping the alcoholic hide, enabling him or her to avoid the legitimate consequences of their actions, they make the problem worse rather than better.

If you are doing this, stop, it’s counterproductive. Remember, walking in the darkness never works; neither does covering up another’s deeds of darkness.

Jack Watts

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If you want to get honest, and are willing to do anything to rid yourself of self-deception, join me in the following prayer:

 

Father,

For years, I have pursed a willful path

One that I demanded for myself,

Doing as I pleased, regardless of the impact

By behavior had on myself or on others.

I determined to “Do it my way,” and no other way.

But now, as I look back on the fruit

That I have produced from my waywardness,

From my years of drinking and drugging,

I don’t like what I see; I don’t like it at all.

In my foolishness, I have become the one thing

I promised myself to never be—a liar.

I have deceived others about my drinking so often

That it has difficult to know what is true.

Even worse, I have deceived myself,

Excusing and justifying that which is inexcusable.

 

Father, I cannot go on like this.

My life is empty and devoid of fruitfulness.

As I look to the future, I see heartache and despair.

But that’s not what I want for my life.

Having been so wayward, it’s all I know,

But it’s not all there is. You can change my future.

You can change my heart and my desires.

Do it now, Father. Change me at the core of my being,

And implant a heart that desires to do Your will.

Walk with me for all the time I have left,

So that I may honor Your name and be a blessing to others,

Amen.

 

The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way,

But the folly of fools is deceit—Proverbs 14:8

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Faith is not belief without proof but trust without reservation—AA Slogan

At the core of alcoholism and drug addiction is false belief. As alcoholics, we see the world from a distorted perspective, which permits us to deny truth routinely, sometimes daily. According to our self-deception, we are right; others are wrong. We see things clearly; others do not. There is nothing wrong with us, it’s them; they are to blame. It’s always them; it’s never us.

When confronted by our behavior, which is often unacceptable and self-defeating, we deflect. From our viewpoint, what we did wasn’t that bad. We were drunk and didn’t know what we were doing. Everybody does things like that—not just us. “No biggie,” is our motto, regardless of whom we have hurt.

If we cannot get away with our deflections, which happens often, we project. We say that it wasn’t our fault; our wives drove us to it. If not our wives, then our bosses, our children, our lot is life—which wasn’t fair—or our upbringing. They are the ones responsible for how we turned out—not us. In fact, projecting the problems of our poor upbringing becomes our universal copout. If we only had had a loving father and a nurturing mother, we would have turned out differently, but we didn’t. So, our behavior becomes their problem and not ours—even if they have been dead for many years. Nothing is ever our fault; it’s always somebody else’s.

We become extremely skilled at passing the buck to those we hold accountable for our situation. This is how we live, by blaming others, never ourselves. As George Costanza once put it on Seinfeld, “It’s not a lie if you believe it.” While this may be funny, it isn’t true. Self-deception is never reality, regardless of how steadfastly we maintain that it is.

In our cultural belief system, truth may be relative but, in our Christian belief system, it isn’t. In therapy, patients talk about “my truth” all of the time, which is nothing more than their perception of reality. Embracing “your truth” usually does nothing more than validate your self-deception, making it more difficult to see reality accurately.

All of this is why God is the vital, independent variable in recovery. To become sober, rigorous honesty is demanded—not just the reaffirmation of your alcoholic self-deception. You can’t become sober by embracing the same old lies. You must “get honest”—not just with yourself but also with others.

The obvious question then becomes, to whom “specifically” must you become honest? The answer is to yourself, to God, and to another human being. It’s a simple answer, but it’s not easy to achieve.

Jack Watts

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Father,

I have drifted so far from You—

From Your Love an Your watchfulness

To a place devoid of joy and purpose.

I never intended to stray so far.

It just happened and I allowed it—

Never thinking it would be permanent

Or as destructive, but it has been.

 

In my willfulness and waywardness,

I have made a mess of my life.

I’m painfully aware that this is true.

Now, having wasted so much time,

And having hurt so many, including myself,

I come before You. Help me, Father.

Bless me, for I have sinned.

I have allowed alcohol to replace Your guidance,

Foolishly believing I could control my destiny,

Which I cannot. I cannot control anything,

But You can. Restore me, Father,

So that I can tell others of Your love and mercy.

Restore me quickly—lest my sorrows consume me,

Amen.

 

Pride goes before destruction,

And a haughty spirit before stumbling—Proverbs 16:18 NAS

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We are without defense against the first drink; our defense must come from a power greater than ourselves—AA Slogan

There are many reasons why people become alcoholics or addicted to drugs, whether illegal or prescribed. For people of faith, the list narrows appreciably. We just seem to lose our way. We know God is real and that He loves us but, because of our substance abuse, He becomes a marginal entity. He loses His power in our lives, and we come to believe that He doesn’t participate in our daily routine the way we once thought He did. Instead of being intimately involved of our daily lives, He becomes a distant caretaker who is present—but from an appreciable distance. Essentially, we come to accept the societal version of who Almighty God really is.

This doesn’t happen all at once, nor is it a premeditated act of the will. It’s much more subtle than this. Instead of being a conscious act of willful disobedience, it is a gradual drifting away.

As a result, the joy we once had for life fades away. It’s replaced by the negative emotions that come from seeing the world from a godless perspective—one that knows He is there, but ceases to believe He is relevant.

Being in such a place can be very painful. To reestablish our joyful outlook, we drink or drug, and it works. If only for an evening—for a brief moment in time—we feel normal again. This is how we want to feel, so we repeat the process, eventually becoming addicted to what makes us feel normal and whole.

Then, as if the magic has been removed from our elixir, alcohol no longer produces the joy it once did. In a desperate attempt to fix our world, we try other elixirs or combinations of elixirs, but none are effective. Although frequently unwilling to admit it to ourselves, this is when others recognize we have become an alcoholic. Our lives, devoid of natural joy, or even the artificial joy booze or a fix produces, spiral downhill. Having moved so far away from God, we feel lost and separated from His Presence and His Will.

The reason for our plight is simple: We have embraced a lie about who we really are and who God really is. We have accepted what our culture says about Him, rather than what He has said about Himself, and our lives have become unmanageable as a result.

Jack Watts

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THE SEARCH FOR REALITY—is about the nature of truth, especially about how we deny truth daily—yet we rarely acknowledge being in denial. By taking a focused look at this issue, it is our hope you will choose to free yourself from the lies you have embraced, which will allow you to lay aside your enslaving shackles. When you do, the value of your life will improve dramatically, allowing the rich character qualities you desire to manifest themselves. After all, you don’t want to waste your life beating yourself up emotionally, do you?

Part of the problem comes from our cultural values. In our twenty-first-century Christian experience, we have been led to believe there is no such thing as absolute truth. In America, relativism prevails, and most Christians accept the status quo, either eagerly or passively. To express an alternative perspective is to invite ridicule, which few desire or can handle. For better or worse, this is the world in which we live and the reality we accept as true. For the most part, we don’t even question it.

Nevertheless, this is precisely what we propose to do in The Search for Reality. We intend to question your basic societal presuppositions, as well as your unquestioned assumptions about truth, some of which you have held since childhood. As things unfold, you will be amazed by what you discover about your true beliefs.

The Search for Reality.

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Holding a beautiful red rose for all to see, the pastor said, “How many of you think this flower is beautiful?” Within a few seconds, every hand in the congregation was held high. Continuing, he asked, “How many of you would like a rose like this?” Again, hands shot up all over the sanctuary. Stepping forward, the pastor handed the flower to someone in the audience, asking that the flower be passed around for all to take a closer look.

Returning to the pulpit, the pastor began his sermon on purity, going to great lengths to make his point. If there was ever a hell, fire, and brimstone sermon, this was it. Concluding, he asked the audience, “Where is my rose? Someone bring it back to me, please.” As people looked to see who had the rose, a teen stepped forward and brought the rose forward, handing it to him.

Holding the flower high in the air a second time, the pastor commanded, “Look at what has become of the rose. After being handled by so many, it has lost its beauty, its purity and its value. Tell me, who would ever want this rose now? If you want it, raise your hand.” As he looked around the room, not a hand was raised, as the intimidated audience sat still. Having made his point, the pastor recited a long, mellifluous prayer, finally sending the church members home—all properly reprimanded.

Had Christ been in the audience that day, however, He would have looked at the wilted, badly damaged flower much differently. Standing for all to hear, He would have said, “I want that rose, and I’ll pay any price for it.”
Jesus wants the used, abused, and discarded. He wants the wounded and the mistreated. He will take broken people just the way they are—without reservation.

It’s time to reconnect with Almighty God in a genuine and transforming way. Prayer is what changes people from the inside out, and it will change you as well. Because there is no condemnation for those who belong to the Lord, regardless of what you have done, you are a rose to Him.

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Working through Painful Loss

 

There is a God and I’m not Him—AA Slogan

 

Father,

I come to you broken,

With a continuous heartache

That I’m certain will never end.

At times, it’s hard for me to even breathe

As fearful, cold chills race through me.

My loss is so great that I’m certain

I will never be a whole person again.

I awaken at night, knowing something is amiss,

As grim reality floods my consciousness.

Startled and disoriented, I quickly become alert—

Completely aware of my circumstances—

As my countenance diminishes appreciably.

I am bowed down and emotionally defeated.

That’s when I come to You;

That’s when I seek Your face;

That’s when I weep and mourn.

That’s when I am consumed by pain and loss.

I desperately want my grief to abate;

I want You to hold me like I was still a small child.

I want You to “make it all better.”

I want my suffering and discomfort to cease.

I want to know peace and joy once again,

But none of my desires happen—not even close.

 

Instead of granting my wishes, which are demands,

It seems like You are speaking to my heart, saying,

You need to feel this pain for a season,

My child, but only for a season.

For I know the plans I have for you—

Plans for a future and a hope.

I understand your pain and your loss.

I, too, have experienced such a loss.

I, too, have felt such a deep pain.

But what I have gained through My loss is you,

And you are worth the price that has been paid.

When I understand this; it resonates within me.

I feel humbled and cease being self-consumed.

This is when I bow my head, bend my knee, and say,

“Father, You give and take away,

You give and take away,

You give and take away,

Blessed be Your name.”

Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way. (Psalm 139:23-24)

Jack Watts

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Fear is the absences of faith—AA Slogan

Father,

It is so easy to live my life each day,

Never taking the time to pay attention

To You or to all that You have done for me.

I haven’t disregarded You purposefully,

But I don’t make You a priority either.

Then, when everything seems to unravel,

When nothing works and everything

That can go wrong definitely does,

My focus becomes immediate and complete,

And I regret my capriciousness instantly.

Becoming panicked, fearful that my world will crumble,

I want You to “fix” things quickly and easily.

Being candid about my desires, it’s not You I want

As much as what You can do for me.

It grieves me to admit this, but it’s the truth.

In fear, pain, and discomfort, I call upon You

From the depth of my being, begging for relief and a way out.

 

Then, I hear Your voice, which gently but firmly tells me,

To be still and know that You are Almighty God—

That You are in charge of everything, and all is well.

I know that this should give me confidence,

And that I should cease from my anxious fretting,

But that’s not what happens at all—

That has never been my experience.

Instead, I become more intense and insistent than ever,

Beseeching, whining, moaning, and carping—

Anything to get Your attention and gain relief.

But no matter what I do or how animated I become,

Your answer never varies—not even a little.

As I sit in my solitude, in moments when all is quiet,

Your voice becomes even clearer, reminding me

To be still and to know that You are God.

If I were stronger, I would cease from all my striving,

But it isn’t in my nature to trust You that easily.

I wish this was my way, but it’s not.

I want to learn to rest, but this doesn’t happen

Until I’ve exhausted myself with distress, fear, and worry.

Finally, when I am completely spent and can no longer

Muster a complaint, I bow my knee, as I should have earlier,

And submit to the small quiet voice that never ceases to say,

Be still and know that I am there for you—that I am God Almighty,

Amen.

They reeled and staggered like a drunken man, and were at their wit’s end. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He brought them out of their distresses. He caused the storm to be still, so that the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad because they were quiet; So He guided them to their desired haven. Let them give thanks to the Lord for His lovingkindness, and for His wonders to the sons of men! (Psalm 107:27-31)

Jack Watts

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