12 Steps to a Closer Walk with God -Transcript

note: Members can discuss this workshop in the Message Boards HERE

Obie-host Welcome to the 12 Steps to a Closer Walk with God Workshop!
Tonight our guest speaker is Don Umphrey who is a noted author.
Two of his works include: 12 Steps to a Closer Walk with God
and the accompanying workbook 12 Steps to a Closer Walk with God – Workbook

We also have a forum in the CIR Message Boards where you can further discuss various points brought up in this evening’s workshop.

Obie-host The format of this workshop is: Opening Prayer, followed by Don Umphrey sharing for about 15 minutes. When he is through sharing, we will open the floor to your questions for Don. We encourage you to participate in the question and answer session and to share your thoughts.

Obie-host Who would like to say the opening prayer this evening?

AlanH Father God….
We pray your blessings upon this workshop.Give Don the wisdom he
needs. give him a stable Internet connection.that he may share his insights
and wisdom.make us receptive to the truths he is going to share with us.
bless CIR and everyone who is part of this wonderful ministry.in the
name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

Obie-host Welcome back Don.You now have the floor.

Don–Author I?m proud to be with you today. I?m Don, an alcoholic.
Obie-host hi Don.

Don–Author Through the grace of our loving God, my last drink was Nov 6, 1973. I was 27 then For those of you who had new math, that makes me 41 now. Just kidding! Lord willing, I’ll celebrate 35 years of sobriety in about five weeks. 27 + 35 = 62. My last drink was in the parking lot of a mental hospital, just before admitting myself. I was raised in a Christian home, in and around Detroit, Michigan.I was baptized at age 11, and thought I’d go my whole life without trying alcohol.

Throughout junior high and high school, I had the feeling that I wasn’t particularly popular I was too self-conscious to dance fast. And was afraid to kiss a girl goodnight after a date.I discovered during my senior year that a few brews before a dance or party took away all of my anxieties. “Do not gaze at wine when it is read, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly.” (Proverbs 23:31) Note: There is a seeming positive payoff to sin/addiction. Otherwise, why would we be interested?

For you old movie buffs, this magic elixir alcohol turned me into a combination of Errol Flynn (a swashbuckler and ladies’ man) and Fred Astaire (a great dancer). Alcohol seemed to propel me into the “in crowd” at school.I went away to college with the idea that booze was a cure-all for anything that ailed me.

I quickly turned my back on God for a false god that came in clear, green and brown bottles.In the Bible this is called idolatry.Speaking of idol-worshipers, the prophet Isaiah wrote.?He bows down to it and worships. He prays to it and says, “Save me; you are my god.” He feeds on ashes, a deluded heart misleads him; he cannot save himself or say, “Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?” (Isaiah 44:17:20)

My answer to the question is “No.” I could not tell myself my idol was a lie because I was in so much denial. Even while I was still in high school, alcohol started causing problems for me.”In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper.” (Proverbs 23:32)

In college these problems grew increasingly worse.”Your eyes will see strange sights and your mind imagine confusing things.” (Prov. 23:33) That is the way alcohol affected me. I grew increasingly neurotic.I had abnormal fears as if something bad was going to happen to me at any minute.

Besides these problems, I completely lost track of any values I had. I was promiscuous, used pornography, gambled heavily.If this was supposed to be the good life, why did I feel so bad all the time? While all this was going on, I got kicked out of one college for bad grades. but did finally graduate from a Christian college (where drinking was forbidden) I then worked as a newspaper reporter and editor. And excelled at that for awhile. But I was moonlighting at night as the bouncer in a topless bar.I then left both these jobs and worked as a part-time gas station attendant.

During all this time I thought I was mentally ill and thought that the booze was helping me. Denial! Finally, one night I called the suicide prevention center.A woman answered and asked me if I had been drinking.Me, “Of course.” Her, “You need to stop!” I told her she was crazy and hung up on her.

About two days later I woke up with steam-rolling fears and anxieties. I drank a bunch of beers but the horror in my mind wouldn’t go away.I was in so much despair, I thought about suicide with a shotgun.I turned to straight Scotch. No help there, either.Complete hopelessness. That’s the day I entered the mental hospital.

How ironic! I started drinking because I had a few fears about dating, etc. Booze seemed to take away these fears. But things grew gradually worse and a decade after I started drinking, all I had was fear.By then, there wasn’t enough booze in the world to take away these anxieties.
My “best friend” had turned its back on me.

After a few days in the hospital, the immediate effects of alcohol started to subside. I met a fellow patient who worked as a trash collector.He told me that he planned to go to AA when he left the hospital. He thought this might be my solution, too. I wasn’t so sure.

You see, believe it or not, I still did not understand that booze was the problem.But I told him I would try not to drink and would go to AA when I left the hospital.I checked myself out of the hospital after two weeks and started going to AA.Soon, I took the first step.

Alcohol was my problem!This was liberating for a few reasons:
1) No longer did I have to view myself as a ?victim? of mental illness.
2) I could actually do something to help myself?not drink, go to meetings and seek God.
3) As it turned out, I had the whole thing backward;alcohol caused my mental illness.
it wasn’t the cure-all I thought it was.I came to understand that no human being could help
me. God could and would if He was sought.

With longer sobriety, the mental illness gradually disappeared.After about six months of sobriety, flowers were blooming near a road on which I was driving.When I saw them, it was as if I was seeing a flower for the first time in my life. I knew then that I was seeing the world differently.I started going to church when I was sober about four months.

Several months later I rededicated my life to Christ.Every day I was either at church, AA or both.For the first several years of sobriety, I usually kept my past a secret from the people at church.When I had about seven or eight years of sobriety, I started sharing my story with fellow Christians.Since then, the Lord has used the worst day of my life(the day I entered the mental hospital) for His glory!

When I was sober about two years, I started going to graduate school.First I got a masters degree and started teaching at the university level.Later, I got a Ph.D.– all of this by the grace of God.Considering that one time I kicked out of a state university with a .7 average, this is a miracle.

While working on my doctorate in the 1980s, I started thinking about the relationship between the 12 steps to recovery and the Bible.I thought about writing a book that would be titled “12 Steps for Christians.” But before I was able to write the book, someone else wrote a book by that title.I finally wrote the book in 1990-91 and called it “12 Steps to a Closer Walk with God.” It was first published in 1992, and describes
the biblical basis of each step.

I had wondered why so many diverse groups could use the steps developed by AA in the 1930s.Some 200 groups use the same12 steps, changing only the thing over which they are powerless in Step One.and the people to whom they will carry the message in step 12.

I finally decided that the steps take people from self-centered (no matter how it might manifest itself) to God-centered. And this is the premise of the book.The book also traces the biblical origins of the steps to the Oxford Group movement of the 1920s.

In 2003 I wrote a 12-step workbook. It contains the same self-centered to God-centered premise.The workbook actually works people through the steps in conjunction with an NIV Bible.Both the book and workbook may be used by any Christian person and applied to any problem that involves addictive behavior. That’s about it for my oration.

Obie-host Thank you so much Don.We now open the floor to your questions for Don.Feel free to raise your hand by typing: ! and you will be called on.who would like to start us off with a question for Don?

wAM It seems to me that almost every kind of dysfunctional living.be it alcohol, relationship problems, over eating, drugs and so forth.the root problem always seems to go to self centered thinking.thinking about how to make ME feel better. My problems have been.drinking and food.and they became my Gods.because they made me feel better.but it was all about me.and I lost my focus on God.why do you think this happens to us Don?

Don–Author A number of years ago I was teaching a Bible study class on the biblical basis of the steps and I decided to do an introduction showing where Satan fit in Well, that ended up being a three-week introduction.Next time I taught an entire quarter on that subject.Now in December, a book will makes its debut on that question (written by me)So the answer is that satan is the king of being self-centered.

andy-cohost I noticed when you talked about your work book,you said” Any-Christian person” are you saying there is No need for fellowship;That the steps can be done effectively with OUT a sponsor?

Don–Author We tested the workbook on people by themselves so that individuals in prison could work through it without any direction.However, it would be a great advantage to any person to work through the steps with a sponsor We need the fellowship. Amen?

AlanH Why do you think that addictions always lead to a loss of our values?

Don–Author We believe the lie; we start lying to ourselves And this is denial. As long as a person stays in denial.he/she is on a course of self-destruction.the very same as the being they are following, the source of evil.So we will either emulate and follow Jesus or satan. Satan wants to destroy us.Jesus has saved us!

mickey do you still go to AA? I have found that people in AA don’t go to church or say they don’t “do” church and I have found that people who go to church dish people in AA.Is that something you have seen?are those fears now gone?

Don–Author I still go to both AA and church,additionally, I go to Christian recovery group meetings here in Dallas, TX I have seen misunderstandings between church and AA and between AA and church.Both boil down to a misunderstanding of the other I am very open at church about my AA attendance in fact, I talked about it this morning to the Bible study group I taught In regards to fears.

Phantom fears still pop up And I may have a tendency to be phobic.But I no longer have to react to the fear Often, I will pray about it and it will go away.Or sometimes I simply acknowledge it for what it is and then it disappears Fear–faith polar opposite just like Jesus and satan

punkin thank you. Do did you know that when you first started abusing alcohol you were practicing idolatry I ask this is because I am a alcoholic and did not find out until last year that it is idolatry.If you did not know, how did you feel when you found out?

Don–Author I didn’t think of it in those terms.I was too caught up in me-me-me my alcoholism led to me professing to be an atheist because there was no way I could justify God as I understood him and the way I was living.It has rally only been in the last few years since I thought about it in terms of idolatry.

punkin Also I need to know how do a individual who want to be connected with AA get over the idea that everyone there is not a Christian or worshiping Jesus Christ?

Don–Author AT AA meetings I just take people for who they are.Some of them seem to use AA for church Others have contempt for church and church people. But I figure if they are seeking God.He will lead them in the way He wants them to go So I don’t do any Bible-banging at AA meetings But I do beat the drum for the steps and AA at church

AlanH Can you share some of the principles that you learned that got you sober and the things you to do help you to stay in recovery?

Don–Author Whew,but let’s try it.Early on I learned three things:
1) This too shall pass When I say this, I mean the times of anxiety and fears that.I
experienced when I first sobered up.
2) God will never give me any more than I can handle
3) A drink ain’t gonna make it any better
Of course, I think the most important thing is a strong relationship with God I’ve seen countless people get drunk because they lost a conscious contact with God.Another important thing.I get all caught up in me-me-me.I am my most important subject Yikes

Working with others helps me forget about myself for a short while Also, working with others takes away anxieties and self-centered fears

ClaraT I just want to say I’m so glad that CIR is “taping” this so I can catch up. I’m just tickled to have you here.and I bought your book and workbook.right after hearing you share the first time in our chat meeting! It was so worth it and one of the most.best. introductions I’ve ever read.can’t wait to read the whole thing.my question is this.you know we have a step meeting here at CIR…

I’d be interested in hearing your comments about the “steps as ‘taught’ in 12 step programs.versus the steps we work as Christians… questions make sense?I get a lot of “comparisons” about that also.

Don–Author Clara, sorry I left that meeting so hastily (Clara’s Tuesday night step meeting) My Internet disconnected. I guess the biggest thing is the definition of Higher Power.As Christians we know where our grace comes from.AT AA we talk about the grace of God. But without any further explanation of it.I sometimes cringe in AA meetings when people use God’s name in vain.

Another difference is the basis for truth.I know that the Bible is inspired.Some people in AA seem to use the Big Book as their greatest source of truth And they quote it as some people quote the Bible.I guess these are the biggest differences I have observed.

AlanH I’ve been in AA for some years.and read about the history of AA.and I believe it has been hijacked by humanists and atheists. AA started out with a strong Christian and Bible base.and it is being watered down.even to the point of references to God being removed from the newer.editions of the Big Book. I think it is wrong and that.as a result. AA is loosing its ability to help people… because it is no longer relying on God.but rather AA and the Big Book have taken the place of God.what do you think?

Don–Author Interesting observations, Alan.A friend was quoting to me out of the First Edition of the Big Book a few days ago and there were many references to Christianity Today, though, Jesus has become “politically incorrect” at AA meetings You could say the table was your higher power but you couldn’t say that Jesus is. That ain’t right.

But, I’m not so sure if I would have stayed at AA if it had been religious.The idea of the generic Higher Power worked for me at the beginning And come to find out, I really needed to redefine God as I understood Him.So, I try to be tolerant, even if others are not tolerant of my beliefs

Obie-host Just a quick note.there is a book out that has all the old stories from the original…editions of the Big Book that have been removed and/or replaced. These stories tend to be the ones referencing Jesus.
Experience Strength and Hope Hardcover

Experience, Strength & Hope: Stories from the First Three Editions of Alcoholics Anonymous

It is an excellent book and I encourage all Big Book fans to get this book.

LeighAnne you have mentioned several times about how the enemy plays a part in our addictions.and what the truth means to us when we can actually hear it.and I just wonder what you think.Have you ever met anyone who didn’t need to be in recovery for one reason or another?

Don–Author Since we all fall short of the grace of God.I think we could all use recovery.The problem I encounter when taking the steps to church is that most people there can’t take step one on anything not even on sin.So, the steps don’t work unless someone knows that he/she is powerless.I wonder if someone has to go to a mental hospital, etc.before taking the first step. Has anyone else observed the phenomenon at church?

LeighAnne yes… ty Don

Obie-host I certainly have.

andy-cohost nods

punkin yes I have thks don

Obie-host We appreciate everyone coming to the 12 Steps to a Closer Walk with God Workshop.

Don–Author This has been great! A wonderful opportunity

Obie-host Two of Don’s works include: 12 Steps to a Closer Walk with God
and the accompanying workbook 12 Steps to a Closer Walk with God – Workbook

Obie-host Let us say a closing prayer…
Heavenly Father…..
We thank You for Don and the wisdom he has shared with us this evening..

Obie-host We ask that you bless him and his ministry..lead other people to read his books and to seek him out…..

Obie-host We ask Your blessings upon everyone in this chat room.You know our needs and we trust that You will take our burdens and handle them for us…

Obie-host bless CIR and all who participate here.In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen