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Posts Tagged ‘God’s Grace’


 

 

GOD’S PROMISE: Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits; who pardons all your iniquities; who heals all your diseases; who redeems your life from the pit; who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion; who satisfies your years with good things, so that your youth is renewed like an eagle (Psalm 103:1-5.)

 

MY PRAYER: Father,

The darkness has lifted—

Darkness permitted by You

To refine my character,

Purging each of my childish ways

And making me more like

The man I’m supposed to be—

The man I’ve always wanted to be.

In the midst of my despair,

When at night I longed for the day,

And in the daytime desired it to be evening,

When sorrows made it difficult to breathe,

You were always there beside me,

Even when I was certain You were not.

As fear relentlessly rattled every fiber of my being,

You continued transforming me from the inside out—

Ever mindful of my frailties and weaknesses.

You purged, pruned and cleansed me from within,

Making me into a far better version of myself

Than I have ever been.

 

Then, one day, as I waited for my debilitating gloom

To return, which had become my daily routine,

It was gone—vanished like it had never been present—

Leaving me stronger, more resilient, and far wiser.

My purpose also returned to me, along with my smile.

I embraced life with renewed enthusiasm—

No longer chained to my heartache—

No longer imprisoned by my distress.

Now, having been elevated to a new, higher plateau,

I can thank You for making me a new person—

With estimable character qualities I thought beyond reach,

Amen.

 

MY SLOGAN: Sobriety is a journey, not a destination.

 

MY AFFIRMATIONS:

—I am free from the enslaving guilt of my past.

—My outlook on life will reflect God’s love and nothing else.

—My countenance has changed, and I am young at heart.

—I will live life on a new, higher plateau.

 

MY MEDITATION: For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ (II Corinthians 4:6.)

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God’s Leading

 

If you want what we have and you’re willing to go to any lengths to get it—AA Slogan

 

Father,

As I try to understand Your leading

And the direction You desire for me to follow,

It seems easy enough, but it never is.

I try to predict what You are doing—

What You have in mind for me,

But I never really know what that is.

It seems like I’m in the dark frequently,

And You are never predictable.

Just when I think I understand Your ways,

You move in a different direction—never returning

To the path I have learned to follow.

All I can do is listen to Your gentle whisper,

Which guides me toward my destiny.

Sometimes, I wish it was easier to be certain—

To know exactly where You are headed,

And what the outcome will be,

But that’s not my role—not my lot in life.

My job is to be keen and vigilant,

As You move through each of life’s circumstances,

Always pointing toward higher ground,

Always aiming toward Your predetermined purpose.

Having walked this road with You for many years,

I know that You can be trusted,

And that’s all I need to sustain me,

Amen.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Thy presence, and do not take Thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation, and sustain me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Thy ways, and sinners will be converted to Thee. (Psalm 51:10-13)

Jack Watts

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Learning to Trust God

 

It’s easy to talk the talk, but you have to walk the walk—AA Slogan

 

 

Father,

As the years progress,

I often hear people talk

About how much they trust You,

But their proclamations seem less sincere

Than the pronouncements of a fickle lover.

Lacking tangibility and depth,

Their affirmations, which flow mellifluously

From their self-serving mouths,

Have selfish and egotistical motives

That seem devoid of worthwhile substance.

Their loyalty has not been forged

By adversity and weathered by hardship.

Their trust seems shallow and juvenile,

Rather than strong, resilient, and steadfast.

Believing that whining and demanding

Will gain Your favor rather than being authentic,

They come before You with hearts

That are petulant, peevish, and proud.

Lacking gratitude, they are arrogantly self-righteous.

 

I understand their perspective completely,

Having spent decades of my life

Coming before You in precisely

The same self-serving, self-centered way—

Never understanding, never conceding

That You know what is best for me.

I acknowledge my effrontery and selfishness.

I have foolishly thought that my way

Was better than Yours, but I have been wrong.

I have wanted my will, believing that

When You refused to grant my demands,

You were distant and detached—

Unloving, uncaring, rigid, and unconcerned.

How foolish I have been, Father; how foolish.

You do know what is best for me,

Regardless of what that might be.

After years of perusing frivolity,

I now understand the error of my ways.

I wish I had recognized this sooner,

But I lacked the maturity to do so.

Now, as wisdom settles deep within me,

I bow me knee and acknowledge this truth:

You give and take away,

You give and take away,

You give and take away,

Blessed be Your name,

Amen.

 

Seek the Lord while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord and He will have compassion on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are you ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts higher than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:6-9)

Jack Watts

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Coming to the Light

 

Make a Searching and Fearless Moral Inventory—AA Step 4

 

Father,

Now that I have spelled out

The exact nature of my behavior,

And have written it down,

I feel so naked and completely vulnerable.

Just reviewing it gives me a feeling of relief,

But I also feel insecure and very ashamed.

Now that I have brought to light

My deepest, most intimate secrets,

I fear condemnation, rejection and ridicule.

Perhaps I will even be mocked by my confidant—

By the person I have chosen to trust—

Just like I have been by so many others.

I know this is not a realistic fear,

But just the thought of it creates

Anxiety and apprehension in my heart.

I know that You have forgiven my self-defeating behavior,

But humans are rarely as gracious as You are.

 

Please prepare the heart of my friend—

The one I have chosen to be my confessor.

When I expose myself completely, hiding nothing,

I pray that Your love and acceptance will be

What I experience and not the censure

Of someone who is self-righteous—someone who

Cannot understand or accept me, just as I am.

Father, I have worked diligently and come so far.

Help me continue to be vulnerable and forthright,

Which I know is Your will for me.

Stand with me, Lord, so that I can

Boldly state the exact nature of my misconduct,

With humility, casting aside any sense of timidity.

Heal me in all of my broken places,

And relieve the burden of guilt I have

Carried with me for so many years.

Free me to walk into the future unshackled by my past.

Free to become the person You created me to be.

 

How great is Thy goodness, which Thou has stored up for those who fear Thee, which Thou hast wrought for those who take refuge in Thee, before the sons of men! Thou dost hide them in the secret place of Thy presence from the conspiracies of man; Thou dost keep them secretly in a shelter from the strife of tongues. (Psalm 31:19-20)

Jack Watts

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Life can be very difficult, especially for someone who is using. That addicted people need God’s help is obvious, or at least it should be. Nearly everybody who has been in recovery for any length of time acknowledges this. Living life on life’s terms can be tough for anybody, but especially for those trapped by their addictions. For these people, adversity can become overwhelming and debilitating. Their coping skills simply do not allow them to deal with problems the way they should. Consequently, when they make the choice to act out, rather than handle their problems appropriately, family dysfunction and work related difficulties inevitably follow.

Unable to cope with life in healthy ways, millions medicate their problems with alcohol, drugs, excessive prescriptions, inappropriate sexual relationships, over-eating, over-spending, and numerous other addictive vices. As they see it, it’s their only solution—their only way out of an intolerable situation.

Drinking and drugging provide these people with an unhealthy way to cope—a one-day reprieve from facing their troubles. It’s a quick fix that works for the moment, but in the long run, it creates far more problems than it solves. Those who pursue this path cease to live lives that have much meaning. They simply exist from day to day, and the destructiveness of their actions creates dysfunction for everyone who loves them, while also making healthy people codependent by the millions.

Jack Watts

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PREFACE TO MY NEWEST PROJECT: Nearly everything I’ve learned about life has come while I’ve been in the crucible, when my circumstances have been crushing, making me feel like I’m in the emotional pit of hell. This is also where I learned to be authentic with my prayers.

Although there are those who have the ability to learn in a kinder, gentler way, I’m definitely not one of them. Similar to me, most in recovery have trouble learning their lessons easily. They seem to gain wisdom and maturity when adversity stops them dead in their tracks, and they have no choice but to trust God.

During my times of hardship, I’ve also discovered that I’m far more likely to seek God, rather than when my life was progressing smoothly. Again, this seems to be the pattern for nearly everybody who has a problem with substance abuse.

I may be mistaken, but I suspect there are more alcoholics and drug addicts whose experiences are like mine than not. We learn to trust while deep in the valley of despair, when apprehensiveness about the future becomes overwhelming, rather than while living on the mountaintop—where victory, joy, and fulfillment fill each day with endless wonder.

God’s desire is for us to be completely honest with Him, exposing our wounds, hiding nothing, but this isn’t what most of us do. Instead, our prayers are an affirmation of reality. We pray in denial, telling God what we think He wants to hear—like a censorious parent—rather than the naked truth about who we really are.

Altering reality to make our circumstances in life more palatable, and it certainly doesn’t work with God either. Instead of being syrupy and disingenuous, He wants each of us to come before Him exactly as we are—devoid of hypocrisy and self-deception. God is interested in us being forthright and transparent—not in us being piously pretentious. Just as we do, Almighty God loathes hypocrisy.

He understands adversity, having experienced it through the suffering of His Son. This makes Him fully capable of meeting a person exactly where that person is, regardless of the situation or the of degree difficulty.
Let Go and Let God is for wounded, hurting people. It’s for people who have been crushed—for people who have had the wind knocked out of their sails. It’s for people who are in pain—for those who desire to reach out to God but lack the necessary words to express their deepest feelings and desires.
Actually, it is for everyone, but it is especially for those in recovery. So, if you are looking for something genuine—something that will point you to God in the midst of circumstances that threaten to crush you—Let Go and Let God is definitely for you.

Jack Watts

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My Life Still Has Purpose

 

In the End, God’s Truth Will Prevail—Jack Watts

 

Father,

Having been used, abused, and discarded,

By those who insisted they spoke in Your name,

But most assuredly did not,

My self-worth has suffered significantly.

Having internalized their shaming charge,

Which they have levied against me,

I have acted in ways contrary to my beliefs,

Which You have set forth in Your Word—

Convictions that reside deep in the core of my being.

Having tried to run from You for so long,

I now see how flawed my judgment has been.

Returning to You has required me to renew my mind

By looking at life from an entirely different perspective.

Thank You for enlightening me with wisdom,

For revealing that You have good things

Planned for me and not for the calamity I dread.

At times, I still have trouble believing You—

Trusting that the purpose You have planted

Within me is real and will come to fruition.

The stinging indictment of my abusers

Has found fertile ground in my soul,

And continues to resonate, telling me that

I am a person without value—without worth.

When I begin to internalize this message,

Flood me with Your love, Your truth, and Your Word.

Let my heart believe You when You say,

You are my child—loved and valued.

And I most assuredly have a purpose for your life.

Whenever you have doubts, come to Me,

And I will remind you of your value,

Amen.

 

The seers will be ashamed and the diviners will be embarrassed. Indeed, they will all cover their mouths because there is no answer from God. On the other hand I am filled with power—with the Spirit of the Lord—and with justice and courage to make known to Jacob his rebellious act, even to Israel his sin. (Micah 3:7-8)

Jack Watts

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My Life Still Has Purpose

 

In the End, God’s Truth Will Prevail—Jack Watts

 

Father,

Having been used, abused, and discarded,

By those who insisted they spoke in Your name,

But most assuredly did not,

My self-worth has suffered significantly.

Having internalized their shaming charge,

Which they have levied against me,

I have acted in ways contrary to my beliefs,

Which You have set forth in Your Word—

Convictions that reside deep in the core of my being.

Having tried to run from You for so long,

I now see how flawed my judgment has been.

Returning to You has required me to renew my mind

By looking at life from an entirely different perspective.

Thank You for enlightening me with wisdom,

For revealing that You have good things

Planned for me and not for the calamity I dread.

At times, I still have trouble believing You—

Trusting that the purpose You have planted

Within me is real and will come to fruition.

The stinging indictment of my abusers

Has found fertile ground in my soul,

And continues to resonate, telling me that

I am a person without value—without worth.

When I begin to internalize this message,

Flood me with Your love, Your truth, and Your Word.

Let my heart believe You when You say,

You are my child—loved and valued.

And I most assuredly have a purpose for your life.

Whenever you have doubts, come to Me,

And I will remind you of your value,

Amen.

 

The seers will be ashamed and the diviners will be embarrassed. Indeed, they will all cover their mouths because there is no answer from God. On the other hand I am filled with power—with the Spirit of the Lord—and with justice and courage to make known to Jacob his rebellious act, even to Israel his sin. (Micah 3:7-8)

Jack Watts

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Father,

Having said yes to alcohol for so long,

It has become an integral part of my life.

I can’t imagine what my existence would be without it,

But I also know that it is destroying me—

Just as surely as if I was drinking poison.

I know I must make some fundamental changes,

But I’ve become so engrained in my ways

That I’m not sure I can make them. In fact,

Without Your active involvement,

I’m certain that I can’t. I will fail.

 

I need Your help right now, Father—

Not tomorrow or the next day—right this minute.

Give me the strength to say “No” to alcohol.

Provide me with the intestinal fortitude

To “gut things out” until I am no longer

Consumed by the desire to pick up a drink.

Strengthen me with power in the inner man.

Without Your help, I fear my sobriety

Will be disjointed and short-lived,

But with Your help, my life can be filled

With joy, meaning and purpose once again.

Thank You for being there and for me,

Amen.

 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

And do not lean on your own understanding.

In all your ways acknowledge Him,

And He will make your paths straight, (Proverbs 3:5-6, NAS.)

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Half measures availed us nothing—AA Slogan

Alcoholics Anonymous is by nature quite secretive. Ensuring each attendee’s privacy is something people in the program take very seriously, as they should. Consequently, there have been no clinical studies allowed to demonstrate the long-term success rate of the program. Nevertheless, some things are apparent, and the news isn’t good.

The effectiveness of AA for helping people sustain prolonged sobriety is appalling. For those who love an alcoholic, often that person’s hope is that the alcoholic will start attending meetings, get sober, and remain sober. The assumption is that AA will work and their loved one will become responsible once again, but such an outcome is rare.

The truth is only 5 percent of those who pick up a white chip make it to ninety days of continuous sobriety. Even worse, only 5 percent of those who make it to ninety days make it to two years. This means that only a few who begin the journey to sobriety actually achieve it.

Obviously, if you have a drinking problem, or think you may have a drinking problem, you want to be among the few who actually become sober. The key to success is making the commitment to change. Most come into AA, hoping it will work, but they lack the determination to make it work. Being tentative, their chances for success are virtually non-existent. In a 1990 survey—one of the few sanctioned by AA—only 5 percent of those who picked up a white chip continued to attend AA meetings one year later.

When I first went to AA, it was because my girlfriend insisted that I go. Like most, my commitment was marginal. Although we broke up soon thereafter, I continued to attend the meetings. Honestly, it was refreshing to no longer have hangovers, but my commitment was marginal at best.

About six months into sobriety, I was in the Virgin Islands with a different young lady—not my proudest moment. We had been out in the ocean all morning in a boat I rented to explore the islands. Being hot, we moored at a dock to get something to drink, but we were not allowed to leave the boat unattended. So, she went to get us some water, while I waited on the boat.

When she returned, she had two cans of Budweiser in her hands but no water—not a drop. Because we had already exceeded our allotted time to moor, I had to head back out to sea, and I was very thirsty.

So, she held out the can of beer and said, “Go ahead, drink it. I won’t tell anybody.”

This was my moment to truth. For me, it might as well have been Satan’s temptation in the wilderness, and I knew it. Although I was bone dry, I didn’t drink the beer. This was the exact moment that achieving sober assumed the importance it needed to have in my life. I resisted temptation, when everything inside of me was saying, “Go ahead, nobody will ever know.”

If I hadn’t been strong, I doubt I would still be alive to relate the story, knowing how lethal alcoholism can be.

When we arrived back to the States, I parted ways with the girl but not with AA. It became more important to me than ever.

The key for me, as it is with every other problem drinker, was my determination to turn my mind and my will over to God, allowing Him to change me from the inside out. That was my defining moment, but this can be yours.

Jack Watts

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Discarding Arrogance and Pretense

 

Pain is the touchstone of spiritual growth—AA Slogan

 

 

Father,

In my pain and anguish,

When my heart was broken,

And I thought darkness would overwhelm me,

I felt lost and all alone, but I wasn’t.

Despite how I felt, You were there with me,

Diligently working in my heart—

Stripping me of all of my pretense,

Stripping me of all of my arrogance,

Stripping me of all of my self-serving ways—

Each of which had made a wasteland of my life.

Although Your child, I had no concern or awareness

Of the direction You intended for me to follow.

My only concern was relief from my discomfort,

But Your goals were far greater than mine.

I thought my anguish would never end—

That I would never smile at the future—

But I was wrong about this, as well.

I knew the desires of my heart

And asked You repeatedly to grant them,

But You never would, which saddened me at the time.

What I have gained through my loss though,

Has had more value than I could have imagined.

Out of the abyss, You have raised me up.

You have placed my feet on solid, immovable rock.

You have strengthened me with power

In the inner man—at the center of my being.

 

No longer fearful or timid, I’m resolute and confident.

Instead of being apprehensive, I am calm, strong, and sane.

And it’s all because You have changed my heart—

Transforming my perspective about what has value.

Without Your loving, consistent care,

I would never have learned my lessons

And would have been destined to repeat my mistakes

Over and over again, like an unreasoning animal—

Not like a man—not like a child of the King.

To compensate for what I have wasted in dissipation,

You reached into the pit—into the mire—

Into emotional carnage of my life and redeemed me,

Providing me with a future and a hope,

Amen.

 

 

Teach me to do Thy will, for Thou are my God; Let Thy good Spirit lead me on level ground. For the sake of Thy name, O Lord, revive me. In Thy righteousness bring my soul out of trouble. (Psalm 143:10-11)

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Father,

I am in a deep, deep hole,

Oppressed by those who

Arrogantly call on Your Name,

But whose intentions are Evil.

In their scheming, avaricious hearts

Resides nothing but hateful malice,

As they plot my destruction.

Not being prepared for their attack,

My response has been slow and disjointed.

This is not what I wanted or deserved,

But it is the hand I have been dealt.

 

I need Your help, Father,

Not in the future but this very minute.

Hear my prayer and know my heart.

I am gripped with fear, as I watch

Their plan to crush me unfold.

Smiling, they congratulate themselves

At the success of their mischief.

Dismissing their deceitfulness,

They relentlessly move forward,

Congratulating themselves for their success.

 

I am badly shaken and unable

To defend myself or fight back—

Not like I should—not after having

Been blindsided by their attack.

But You are always vigilant, Father.

You have calculated their wickedness

From its inception and understand

Every evil plot they have schemed.

Confound them, and do not

Allow them to have dominion over me.

Bring Your retribution upon them instead,

While protecting me from their harm.

Amen

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Pursuing Your Purpose

 

If it is meant to be, I can’t stop it. If it isn’t God’s will, I can’t make it happen—AA Slogan

 

Father,

My spirit has been rejuvenated.

Even my step feels lighter,

As the burden of my past has been

Lifted from my shoulders.

Now free to walk into the future,

Unencumbered by guilt, shame, and remorse,

Which have produced self-defeating behavior,

I want my life to have more meaning

Than the mediocrity that has become my routine.

The pursuit of valueless materialism no longer

Has the appeal that it once had, which is freeing.

Even my definition of success has changed.

My spirit has been awakened, and I want

To spend each day, which You have numbered,

Doing what You would have me do—

What You have prepared for me to do.

 

I’ve learned that I can more accurately

Understand Your leading by looking back,

Than I can by looking toward the future.

Whatever You have in store for me, Lord,

Regardless of what that might be,

This is where I want to spend my days.

Having wandered so far from You in the past,

I know the mischief I am capable of doing,

And that is not what I want for my life.

Guard my heart, Father, so that

I will not wander away from You again,

Pursuing fruitless, meaningless diversions.

Let my heart rejoice in Your ways.

Give me peace, purpose, and the resolve

To accomplish Your will each day,

For as many as I have remaining,

Amen.

 

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)

Jack Watts

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Never Give Up

 

Don’t quit before the miracle happens—AA Slogan

 

 

Father,

As the vicissitudes of life have turned against me,

And it seems like nothing but misfortune

Will be in my path for the foreseeable future,

Anxiety and fretful worry fill my days.

When I awaken in the middle of the night,

I am filled with dread and foreboding.

My mind races and my heart churns apprehensively.

Nevertheless, at the deepest level of my being,

A quiet persistent voice tells me to never give up.

When I rise in the morning, I am filled with resolve,

Knowing that the quiet voice came from You.

As the days pass and my pressures increase,

I feel battered and beaten at every turn.

It seems like everything that can go wrong certainly does.

Maintaining a positive outward demeanor,

I remain determined to do the next right thing,

Regardless of what that might be.

I have no choice but to follow this path.

Despite my resolve, my insides are numb and feeble.

Pressures from my circumstances intensify,

Weighing me down, relentlessly grinding me to despair.

As I bow my knee and ask for relief,

Which I know can only come from You,

I realize that I have no answers within me.

 

In the quietness of my heart,

Your voice continues to resonate,

Telling me to never, never give up.

As the weeks turn into months, with no respite from my travails,

Having been abandoned by all who once wished me well,

All that remains are those who desire me harm.

I feel undone, fearing that my heart will break,

But I have no choice other than to press forward.

There is no alternative, and I cannot abandon my purpose.

It’s not in my nature to do so, and that will never change.

With this in mind, I bolster myself repeatedly affirming

That I will never give up—never, never, never give up.

Lord, my life is in Your hands, and You alone know

What day my complete restoration will eventuate.

Until that time, I know what I must do.

I must relentlessly press forward

And never, never, never, never give up,

Amen.

 

 

Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. (Hebrews 10:35-36)

Jack Watts

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Father,
I am so tired of pursuing folly—and I’m
Sick and tired of being sick and tired.
I have felt so hopeless and lost.
My heart is filled with despair.
I have believed lies and accepted disillusionment
As my lot in life, rather than embracing Your path.
I have foolishly believed in the ways of those
Who have mocked Your Holy Name.
Forgive me for being so willful—
For believing the deception of those
Who pursue the road to destruction.

In my foolishness, I have become
Caught up in drinking too much.
All I wanted was to have a little fun,
But now all that my drinking produces
Is despair, and a dreadful foreboding
That nothing of value will come from my life.

This isn’t what I want for my future,
Not for me or for anybody I know,
But it seems to be all I am capable of producing.
I need Your help—not some time in the future—
Father, but right here and right now.
Will You help me this very minute?
All I have to offer is my broken heart
And my willingness to mend my ways.
Thank You, Father,
Amen.

Jack Watts

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