Step 12

A Prayer for the New Year (by Matthew Henry)

"My times are in Your hand!" Psalm 31:15

Firmly believing that my times are in God's hand, I here submit myself and all my affairs for the ensuing year, to the wise and gracious disposal of God's divine providence. Whether God appoints for me...

    health or sickness,
    peace or trouble,
    comforts or crosses,
    life or death--

may His holy will be done!

All my time, strength, and service, I devote to the honor of the Lord Jesus--and even my common actions. It is my earnest expectation, hope, and desire, my constant aim and endeavor--that Jesus Christ may be magnified in me.

Where’s The Peace On Earth?

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
Luke 2:8,14

Christmas Eve more than 2000 years later, it’s fair to ask, “What happened to ‘peace on earth’?”

War. School shootings. Terrorism. Racism. Death. Families torn apart. An observer might wonder if Silent Night is anything more than a song.

A few years later the baby born that night would teach His friends about a different sort of peace.

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27

It’s the peace that doesn’t depend on circumstances. It’s peace that sustains like the eye of a storm while life’s chaos swirls around it.

Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" and the 12 Steps

Charles Dickens' 1843 novel, A Christmas Carol is the famous tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, an old miser who is visited by spirits representing the past, present and future. The novel, while set during the Christmas season, is a story of redemption. It's a wakeup call. It's a lesson on making amends. And it has the Twelve Steps all over the place.

Steps 4-12 heavily involve the "other" of wronged people in our lives, hurt by our destructive choices. They speak to our rebellion of the changed life we need to experience.

4. We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Twelve Steps: Feline Resemblance

He that getteth wisdom loveth his own soul: he that keepeth understanding shall find good." Proverbs 19:8

As with most families this time of year, my husband and I commemorate the season with holiday decorations. That décor, however, is threatened by two factors: our cats, Gracie and Glory.

And, it is in this holiday decoration/feline context where I started thinking about the power of negative consequences.

The Book of Proverbs is especially loaded with helpful warnings for particular behaviors. It comes down to wisdom versus foolishness, pride versus humility, willingness to learn versus stubbornly and repeatedly making the same poor choices.

Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end. Proverbs 19:20

Judgments are prepared for scorners, and stripes for the back of fools. Proverbs 19:29

Like it or not, we live in a cause and effect world. Many of us who battle with addiction, disorder and compulsion have already felt certain unpleasant consequences like lost jobs, wrecked relationships, health issues and excruciating moments of embarrassment.

Thanksgiving: Blessings? or Mercies?

We can all provide a catalogue of things wrong with our lives and the world. Thanksgiving is a time when we must forget these things to remember God's mercies.

The origin of Thanksgiving is in the harvest festival of the Old Testament. The early American celebration was a self-conscious adoption of the Old Testament observance together with many other things. Throughout the year, the Hebrews constantly were summoned to thank God for His mercies and blessings. Many Psalms resound with thankful praise, especially Psalm 136:

O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good:
for his mercy endureth forever.

Are You Living the Language of Recovery?

"Rétablissement" is the French word describing recovery from illness or injury. Similarly, the phrase, "être en cure de désintoxication" has as its English translation, "to be in recovery from drugs, alcohol, et cetera."

I recently stumbled across some old vocabulary flashcards from my two years of high school French class. Some things have stuck with me years later, like reciting the alphabet and singing the Christmas carol, "Silent Night," à la française.

Yet, as I was flipping through the flashcards, I was re-reminded of just how much I had forgotten.

Seldom used words...
Factory is "l'usine."
Waste basket is "la corbeille."

Life Choices: Thermometer or Thermostat?

For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he... Proverbs 23:7

Senator Cory Booker, on an appearance of "The Daily Show," recently shared a powerful lesson with the audience:

"My father told me there are two ways to go through life: as a thermometer or as a thermostat. A thermometer: whatever someone says about you, you go up or down. A thermostat: you set the temperature."

Both the thermometer and the thermostat reflect life and its issues, including our stance on addiction and recovery.

And our choice has significant ramifications concerning health, well-being and prosperity. Each option offers its inevitable results.

So, it might be worth our while to ponder what those very results may mean for us.

First, the thermometer: its appeal is that self-gratifying moment. It doesn't require much work. You just let your feelings rip.

Perseverance: The Race Set Before Us

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Hebrews 12:1

Gaman is a Japanese term of Zen origin which means "enduring the seemingly unbearable with patience and dignity". The term is generally translated as "perseverance" or "patience."

And, within Scripture, this principle is, indeed, a faith focal point.

... we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience. And patience, experience; and experience, hope: Romans 5:3-4

For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. Hebrews 10:36

I don't know about your physical education experience when you were a kid, but my class always participated in the annual presidential physical fitness test.

Is anyone out there groaning yet?

As part of that test to assess kids' fitness levels, things like pushups, sit ups and pull ups were measured. But the thing which caused me the most dread- and the least success- was the 600 yard run.

Now, is anyone out there groaning?

If you're not familiar with

The Still, Silent Challenge

Do We Sit With Our Hearts?

I admit it. I have a difficult time being still.

I like background noise, action and movement. This probably explains why I am pathetic at relaxation exercises, Tai Chi and yoga. I just can't seem to settle down. The room may be completely quiet, yet my thoughts, "to do" lists and anxieties are often at record-setting decibel levels.

And this noise is often a part of the addiction package. Why? Because it's distracting. And anything that promises to provide escape from reality is tantalizing.

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