Professionals, Pastors & Spouses, Recovery Pros

Compassion FatiguePremium Content

I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true.
I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live
by the light that I have. I must stand with anybody
that stands right, and stand with him while he is right,
and part with him when he is wrong. ~ Abraham Lincoln


Compassion is defined as "a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering."

Compassion fatigue is a form of burnout that manifests itself as physical, emotional and spiritual exhaustion. Clinically it is defined as a more user friendly term for Secondary Traumatic Stress Disorder which is nearly identical to PTSD, except it affects those who are affected by the trauma of another, perhaps a family member, friend, acquaintance or client.

Caregivers and therapists/practitioners who serve others are particularly prone to this condition. In the broader picture, I believe that many of us are experiencing compassion fatigue as it relates to the world at large. We are assailed by the news
of war, crime, disease, famine and natural disasters. Reportedly, thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of innocents are being raped, kidnapped, brutalized, tortured, sold into slavery or the sex trade, forced to leave their homes and livelihoods, renounce their religions or be crucified and as is becoming more common, beheaded.

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When Loving a Spouse is Difficult

Ask Angie: I cannot seem to find love for my husband. We have been through difficult times and we were not able to work together on anything. There were months when we did not speak to each other and just went on with our lives without communication. I have been hurt so much…. It is wrong but I cannot find forgiveness for him nor seem to be able to detach with love. Our children see the problem we have and now have issues in their lives since we did not show them a good marriage/ family…I have been working on my spirituality so much but still find that my heart is heavy.

Ask Angie: Dear Angie, It's me again. I was reading the stories about the women who are married to alcoholics. My husband is not an alcoholic though he displays the same kind of behaviors. Life with him is unbearable at times. He told me last night, again, that most of the time he does not want to be married, and during those times he treats me like he does not want to be married. The few times he does want to be married, he looks at me with kindness, it's very short lived. Then the cycle repeats itself. I am tired. I am getting physically sick from it. How does a Christian woman stay with a (Pastor) husband that 95 percent of the time does not want to be married and shows his wife no love?

Marriage Guidance: I will address the issues that are italicized above. Both of these women are experiencing similar issues in their marriage. Although one is having difficulty loving her husband, the other's husband is having difficulty loving his wife. Please print out this marriage column and give it to your husbands. Read through the article resources together. Talk about the questions at the end of the articles. Marriage needs both husband and wife to be willing to put in the effort.

How Can You Help Someone Who Needs You?

How can you help someone who needs you?

A while back I was asked to do a workshop for folks who are working in difficult areas of ministries. Since I’m a wheelchair user, I was supposed to offer a seated perspective of things people have done that have been helpful and some that haven’t.

At the start of a new year I thought the list might be useful. These are some ideas. Hopefully you’ll help me with something I’ve missed.

Show up. I seem to always need help at inconvenient times, and I’m grateful for friends who show up even when they’d rather be somewhere else. There’s a difference between Signing Up And Showing Up.

It’s easy to say, “Call me if there’s anything I can do.” It’s hard to ask for help. The real heroes are the folks who show up.

Surviving the Holidays: Some Tips for People in Recovery

For most people, the weeks between Thanksgiving and the New Year are a special time of joy and celebration. Yet, it can be an extremely difficult and stressful time for those who are just beginning to recover from addiction to alcohol and drugs. Spending the holidays in a shelter or residential recovery program is hard.

Here's a few simple thoughts that can make the experience a little more tolerable

A. Remember the spiritual significance of the holidays - This time of year is a major commercial event for America's retailers. It is also a time for special celebrations of family and goodwill. Still, we must remember that "Jesus is the Reason for the Season". Above all else, we are celebrating God's sending of His only Son to be our Savior and Redeemer. Keeping Christmas as a spiritual celebration puts all of our other expectations for the holiday season in proper perspective.

B. Don't isolate - The holidays can be the loneliest time of the year for the recovering addict. On one hand, we are reminded of all the relationships we've messed up. Some will spend Christmas haunted by memories loved ones and friends they've alienated with destructive and manipulative behavior. We know, too, if we want to keep our sobriety, we must avoid people who are still using alcohol and drugs. What's the solution? Take advantage of the new sober acquaintances God has brought your way. Reach out to those around you and use this holiday season s as a special opportunity to get to know them better.

Spiritual Warfare Prayers

One of the most important aspects of Prayer is Spiritual Warfare. The Bible tells us that we are in the midst of a Spiritual battle, and our advisory the devil is like a roaring lion seeking to destroy our lives. Paul says,

We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against Spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12


Satan and his forces of darkness are trying to destroy your life, and it is imperative that we learn to pray against these forces of darkness in order to gain victory in our lives.

*SPIRITUAL WARFARE PRAYERS*

1. I arise today with the power of the Lord God Almighty to call forth the heavenly host, the Holy angels of God, to surround and protect, and cleanse with God’s Holy light
all areas vacated by the forces of evil. I ask the Holy Spirit to permeate my mind, heart, body, soul and Spirit , creating a hunger and thirst for God’s Holy Word, and to fill me with the life and love of my Lord, Jesus Christ.

2. We use every verse in the Holy Bible that wars against the demonic forces. We bind and loose spirits. We tear down strongholds. We command civil war in Satan's Kingdom. We loose the Love of God, Price that Jesus Paid, Holy Spirit, Word of God, Blood of Jesus and Cross of Jesus against the forces of evil. All these things we do in the name of Jesus Christ , our Lord, Master and Savior, and for the Holy Trinity.

Redeemed Rebels: A Biblical Approach to Addiction

Sometimes we can catch a glimpse of God's majesty in His providence in such a way that we are left bewildered and in awe all at once. These are sweet moments. That is certainly the case concerning my redemption out of the headlong plunge into depravity and my slavery to drug and alcohol addiction. After my addiction, my wife Candi and I used to ask God and ourselves these questions:

    Why, God?
    Why did you allow me to go that way?
    Why didn't you do something to stop me?
    Why did I lose so much of myself, destroy so much, and come close to losing my life so many times?

Recovery Ministry and The Local ChurchPremium Content

If you told me five years ago that recovery ministry would make as much progress in the Christian community as it has made during the last five years, I would have said you were crazy. There is still a long, long way to go of course... but significant progress has been make. It occurred to me recently that I have seen six distinct ways in which local churches invest in recovery ministry and I think it has some value to distinguish between these different approaches.

AA In The Basement Strategy

Historically the most common way for local churches to be involved in recovery ministry is for the church to allow AA or NA or some other organization to meet in church facilities. It is difficult to imagine where AA would be today if it were not for this kind of participation by local churches over the years. Literally hundreds of thousands of people have begun their sobriety in AA meetings in church basements. This is a wonderful kind of ministry for a local church. Even though most of us are very supportive of AA and other 'secular' programs, however, something makes us anxious about congregations whose commitment to recovery is limited to this strategy. Why is it that the power for personal transformation is facilitated by an organization external to the local church while the local church contributes only space? Why is recovery ministry at the margins of congregational life rather than at the center? Don't misread me here - I am not suggesting that the church become more entangled with AA. What I am suggesting is that if recovery ministry remains at the margins of congregational life, we will miss enormous opportunities.

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Are Recovery Groups Needed in Churches?Premium Content

Not long ago I heard someone say: "I don't see any need for recovery groups in our congregation because we already have a very vital small group program." This comment started me thinking about the differences between traditional small groups in the local church and recovery groups.

I have been a participant in small groups and small group ministries for a long time. I have led groups, I have been trained as a group leader, I have written curricula for small groups, I have organized small group ministries and trained small group leaders. These experiences have been very helpful to me and I count them as some of the most valuable of my entire Christian experience. None of them prepared me, however, for the kind of group experiences found in what we now call 'recovery groups'. I remember, for example, the first time I attended a 12 step group. I knew, from the moment the very first person began to speak, that I was participating in a group dynamic which was dramatically different from any other I had experienced.

In order to understand the differences between traditional small groups and recovery

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Criticisms of Recovery - Part 2Premium Content

See: Part 1 | See: Part 3

In a previous article I discussed the most insensitive, intransigent and personally painful kind of resistance to recovery - our own resistance. We tend to be our own worst critics. We resist the changes most tenaciously. In most cases we fight it, reject it, hate it - probably more than anyone else.

It is often true, however, that the recovery journey takes us through territory that is either ambivalent towards or downright hostile to recovery. Recovering codependents, for example, may find that some people prefer the 'good old days' when they were more compliant and self-sacrificing. Unpleasant emotions, once medicated with addictive substances or processes, may be experienced as threats to relationships that have adapted over the years to the insanity of addiction. Some people in recovery experience hostility when they start telling the truth in social systems which have been committed to silence for generations. Other people experience shame and rejection when people are skeptical about or merely uncomfortable with the changes that recovery brings.

Recovery is about change and most of us will encounter resistance when change produces new and unfamiliar behaviors. It is not reasonable to expect that all of the changes which take place during recovery will be received with rejoicing as if they were 'answers to prayer'.

Resistance and Rejection
Most of the resistance we encounter in recovery will be personal and painful. Even when resistance comes in the form of intellectualized 'arguments' against recovery, it may feel like personal assault rather than dispassionate analysis. For example, suppose someone says: "You can't change the past, so you should focus on the positive." This may make some intellectual sense to you. It may 'ring true.' It might, indeed, be good advice at this particular stage of your recovery. But for many people it may also feel like a profound dismissal of their struggle towards sanity. The key to sorting out confusing stuff like this is not the truth or falsehood of "you should focus on the positive". What is critically important is the tone of voice in which you hear "you should focus on the positive". Is the tone practical and understanding? Or is it shaming and dismissing? Do I feel rejected as a person when I hear this?

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Asking for Wisdom - How Are You Praying?Premium Content

A verse that often comes to mind is James 1:5:

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.


When was the last time you asked for wisdom? I have been to a great many prayer meetings over the years, but I don't recall hearing many prayers for wisdom. Either church folk are content to be stupid, or else they assume that they are wise.

The interesting thing is that no strings are attached to praying for wisdom. We are simply to pray in faith. At the same time, we are told how important wisdom is: "Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom" (Prov. 4:7). We are also told that wisdom is a blessing (Prov. 3:13); it is better than rubies and everything else (Prov. 8:11); it is the foundation of the good life (Prov. 24:3), and so on and on. Very obviously, God regards wisdom as necessary to the good life, and also promises to give it to all who ask for it.

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