Compass Point: Repentance

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.

Deception and Recovery

“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.” Deuteronomy 5:20

The cute social media post thing strikes again. I came across this fluff ball the other day:

“Nope, I haven’t seen your lipstick.”

Adorable. Humorous. Human.

Indeed, this deceptive attempt at convincing did not start with our adorable pup. Rather, we need to look at history, a little further back. Let’s peek in on a power couple.

Once upon a time, there was Ananias and Sapphira…Acts 5:1-11

Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property.

Are You Drifing Away?

2 Peter 3:11-12
Hebrews 2:1, 3 NKJV
Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. . . . how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him.

There was a time in the American Church when we didn’t believe that salvation was simply a one-time experience that we could do, forget about, and still retain. There was a time (and in my lifetime) when those who attended church understood that their behavior was an important part of the salvation process, not that we earn our salvation, but that we appropriate it through our choices day by day.

  • “We must give the more earnest heed.” The NRSV translates it: “We must pay greater attention.” How do we measure how much attention we give something? For me, it means what I think about, what I focus on. Do we spend time focusing on the things we have heard (meaning the Bible and the things of God)? Or do we spend time on other pursuits? How much do we know about the Bible compared to other things we know about? What consumes our conversations?

Workshop: Acceptance the Pathway to Peace

Karla Downling is an award-winning best-selling author, speaker, Bible study teacher, licensed marriage and family therapist and founder of Change My Relationship. Karla’s passion is to see individuals, marriages, and families set free from the chains of dysfunction, scriptural misunderstanding, and emotional pain personally and relationally. Her messages provide practical solutions based on biblical truths that bring balance and clarity to life and relationship issues. She also desires to equip ministry leaders and lay counselors to reach out more effectively to those that are struggling with difficult relationships. Karla’s website is http://ChangeMyRelationship.com.

karladowning: Ok. Let’s start off with a definition of acceptance. It is “taking or receiving what is offered, giving approval, believing, or accepting. It is putting out your open hand and allowing the thing or circumstance or person to be put into it and then closing your hand and pulling it toward you. The meaning of “accept” is “to receive as adequate; to receive with approval or favor; to take or receive.”

The opposite of acceptance is refusal or disapproval. It is like putting out your hand and pushing it away. think about your life and the things you don’t want; don’t like; struggle with accepting. Are you opening your hand to receive them or pushing them away? I know for myself that I pushed them away for years and struggled with refusing to accept them. It took lots of energy.

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.

As Sick as Our Secrets

“Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.” Luke 12:2


“Fight Club” is a powerful film, cemented within pop culture. It’s notorious, in particular, for the famous line of its main character, Tyler Durden’s, often quoted within our society…

“Welcome to Fight Club. The first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is: you DO NOT talk about Fight Club!”

And it got me thinking about secrecy.

What About Salvation?

If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. (2 Cor. 5:17)

There are a number of aspects to salvation. Salvation isn’t just getting out of hell and into heaven. There are many different things which make up what we refer to broadly as salvation — things which themselves are great and marvelous, and which together make up a mighty work which only God could conceive and carry out, and which, like all His works, depends only and entirely on His purpose and power and not on anything in the work or its result.

Discipline Or Regret: Which Pain Do We Embrace?

I don’t know who said it, but there is a quote which goes something like:

“You either embrace the pain of discipline or you embrace the pain of regret.”


Yes, I know, it’s a festive one.

Nevertheless, it is a reality check, especially for those of us in recovery from any particular thing which has seized our pleasure centers, all in an effort to escape pain. We desire pleasure to soothe, numb or obliterate our pain. We believe the lie it will happen. Furthermore, we also believe there can be no good thing which comes from denying our indulgences for it.

Therefore, as we stumble and relapse, we often choose to embrace the pain of regret concerning our addictions and the harmful consequences which can follow.

It’s not to shame anyone. Rather, it’s, again, to provide the reality check that none of us are immune from relapse and bad decisions. We are all vulnerable.

For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. Psalms 103:14

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Romans 3:23

It’s acknowledged in the first two Twelve Steps:

What is Forgiveness of Sin?

What is forgiveness of sin?

1) To forgive sin, is to take away iniquity.
“Why dost thou not take away mine iniquity?” Job 7:21.
It is a metaphor taken from a man that carries a heavy burden which is ready to sink him, and another comes, and lifts it off, so when the heavy burden of sin is on us, God in pardoning, lifts it off from the conscience, and lays it upon Christ.
He has laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:6.

2) To forgive sin, is to cover it.
Thou hast covered all their sin. Psalm 85:2.
This was typified by the mercy-seat covering the ark, to show God’s covering of sin through Christ. God does not cover sin in the Antinomian sense, so as he sees it not, but he so covers it, that he will not impute it.

3) To forgive sin, is to blot it out.
“I am he that blotteth out thy transgressions.” Isaiah 43:25.
The Hebrew word, to blot out, alludes to a creditor who, when his debtor has paid him, blots out the debt, and gives him an acquittance; so when God forgives sin, he blots out the debt, he draws the red lines of Christ’s blood over it, and so crosses the debt-book.

4) To forgive sin is for God to scatter our sins as a cloud.
“I have blotted out as a thick cloud thy transgressions.” Isaiah 44:22.
Sin is the cloud, an interposing cloud, which disperses, that the light of his countenance may break forth.