Archive for the ‘Step 10’ Category

Taking Stock: The Past Year, The New Year

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

This is the last evening of the year! I am trying to sum up my year’s life. The days have come to me like clean, white pages–and I have tried to put upon each something beautiful to keep for me when the eternal books shall be opened.

It has been a year of opportunities. I am conscious of not having embraced them all. I have neglected duties of love, not always doing the things I should have done. I have not grown in heart-culture and spiritual life as I ought to have done. These neglects and all my sins, I humbly confess.

Yet I thank God for the past year. I cannot now change anything in it. But I want to learn lessons of experience from my failures and mistakes, and carry them forward into the new year.

I would forget the good things I have done, and try to do better things next year. No year’s life, however beautiful, is beautiful enough to simply repeat–it must be improved upon. So I leave my year, with all its blots and blessings, with God, who will forget nothing worthy, and will look graciously upon my mistakes.

“One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus!” Philippians 3:13-14

(J.R. Miller, December 31, 1907)

Where’s the Milk?

Sunday, July 6th, 2014

milkThere’s a story of a mom who (back in the days when such a thing was considered safe) gave her little boy some money and asked him to ride his bike to the corner store (when there still were such things) to buy a half-gallon of milk.

“I want you to ride straight to the store, buy the milk, and ride right back home,” said Mom.

“Okay, Mommy,” replied the boy. And off he rode.

It was a glorious summer afternoon, filled with the sort of things that interest little boys more than errands and half-gallons of milk. He investigated a few bugs, played with a dog, chatted with the old man down the street, and watched some older boys shoot baskets in a driveway.

After a couple of blocks and several mental detours, his mom’s complicated instructions sort of faded into the warmth of the afternoon. All he could recall was “…ride right back home.” He knew that part was important.

So he turned and pedaled as fast as possible for home. Bounding into the kitchen he announced, “Mom, I’m home.”

“Honey,” she asked, “where’s the milk?”

The little boy looked dejected. “But Mom, I came right home, just like you said.”

The boy completed the ride, but he forgot the milk. The milk was the whole reason for the trip.

What’s the “milk” for you on this tour? What’s the ultimate purpose, that essential element that makes it all worthwhile? What’s at the center, so critical that reaching the goal without it would render everything else meaningless?

Why Are THOSE PEOPLE So Difficult?

Friday, June 13th, 2014

communityI used to joke that a school would be a great place to work if it weren’t for all those pesky kids.

Same thing’s true of serving in communities—it would be easy, if it weren’t for all those messed-up people. The problem is that God seems to like using messed-up people to accomplish His work.

Or perhaps that’s the only kind of people He has to choose from.

I’ll confess that lately I’ve been a bit frustrated. No need for details, but I’m clearly looking through a different set of lenses than some folks I want to support. No matter what I try, it seems I encounter a taller, thicker brick wall.

Ever been there?

Here’s some of what I’m trying. Can’t say it’s successful, at least in terms of breaching barriers or reducing frustration levels.

Note to self: It’s not about me! I know what I want to accomplish, but perhaps my goals aren’t others’ goals…or God’s goals.

Talk to God about things like patience, grace, and a bigger perspective.

Check my attitude to make sure this isn’t about me wanting to sit with the popular kids.

Note #2 to self: I’m one of the messed-up people that makes working together so difficult.

BTW—in case you’re wondering if I’ve tried direct communication with the people involved, of course I have. So far, there are several indentations in those brick walls that match the curvature of my bald head.

I’m not seeking magic answers. In fact, the whole point of this post is that there aren’t any of those.

The point is that working in communities is hard, and we need to be prepared for that.

Unless…we find a community without all those messed-up people, like you and me.

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
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Not a member of CIR yet? Join us Today!Dixon
Copyright by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.

Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:

Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com

What’s With All The Lines?

Monday, February 24th, 2014


Everywhere you look, someone’s drawing a line.

The line identifies us. You’re either on my side, or the wrong side.

You see the lines everywhere. I scrolled through my Facebook feed yesterday and realized I skipped a lot of items because they were about drawing lines.

I’m tired of lines.

Drawing lines is beyond discussing ideas or expressing opinions. I appreciate new information and different perspectives. Problems arise when one creates a rule that condemns and demonizes those who disagree.

Line-drawing is especially popular among Christians. We draw lots of lines around theology, liturgy, worship, and lifestyle.

Almost all of our lines are human creations. They’re unnecessary false dichotomies intended to force personal preferences on others.

I hear the objections already. “Wait a minute, Rich. Don’t you believe in truth?”

Of course I believe in truth. I also know legal experts were always trying to trap Jesus and get Him to draw lines and list the rules. And He stubbornly refused.

He did respond once when lawyers brought a woman caught in adultery. He wrote in the dust, and suggested they proceed with their planned execution—with the caveat that the sinless man among them should cast the first stone.

Instead of drawing a line, He asked that, for once, they abide by the lines they’d drawn for others. We know how that turned out.

Do I believe in truth?

Jesus said, “I am the Truth.”

He’s not a collection of ideas, a list of rules, or a bunch of lines. So I don’t believe any of that stuff.

He said, “Love.” That’s not a line, it’s a circle and an invitation to bring everyone inside.

So I’m looking for places where I draw lines. I’m doing my best to see and erase them.

I invite you to join me.

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !
Not a member of CIR yet? Join us Today!Dixon
Copyright 2008-2013 by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.

Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:

Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com

How Many Times Have You Needed Forgiveness?

Friday, December 27th, 2013

Colossians 3:13: “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

Can you imagine fourteen adults going to lunch at a packed restaurant on Sunday in December after church?

We waited for our lunch longer than usual and were hungry. I found the waitress and asked for bread and butter or crackers. She brought homemade bread and oil.

When the food came, my friend and I didn’t get ours. The young waitress was close to tears. She wanted everything perfect.

My friend and I could have been angry and ruined the luncheon for everyone else. We chose to forgive as the Lord forgave us.

Our meal came when our other friends were almost finished eating. However, we received complimentary soup, dessert, and a free lunch.

The waitress thanked me for showing her forgiveness. It was easy to do when I thought of my mistakes and sins. Jesus Christ died on the cross for my sins.

We will all make mistakes and sin until we die. There’s one God, and we aren’t the one.

Let’s make this Christmas our best one by letting go of anger, bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness.

Dear God, help me forgive those who have hurt me. Amen.

Application: To thank the Lord for the times he’s forgiven you, whom will you forgive this week?

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !
Not a member of CIR yet? Join us Today!Copyright 2010-2013, Yvonne Ortega, LPC, LSATP, CCDVC
All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.
Yvonne is a Speaker, Author, Counselor, Cancer Survivor and
serves on the Board of Directors of Christians in Recovery.
She is the author of Finding Hope for Your Journey through Breast Cancer.
If you would like to have her speak for your organization or church, please contact her through
her website: http://YvonneOrtega.com

Got Any Buried Secrets?

Monday, June 10th, 2013

Last weekend our pastor talked about an incident from the early life of Moses.

As usual, I got trapped on one particular thought and probably missed the whole point of the message.

One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people.Looking this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. The next day he went out and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, “Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?”

The man said, “Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid and thought, “What I did must have become known.” (Exodus 2:11-14)

Have you ever had a secret, something you weren’t proud of and tried to hide? I have. It messes up every part of your life.

Moses had a skeleton buried in the sand. He was careful. He thought nobody knew, because he “looked this way and that” and was sure no one saw his sin.

Maybe they knew, maybe not—didn’t matter, because when someone questioned his integrity, guilt and anxiety overwhelmed him. Moses couldn’t stand up to criticism because he was afraid he’d been discovered.

Recently a Roman Catholic friend told me he was trying to find a way back to the church. He recounted a conversation in which a priest told him the only solution was to confess and do penance for all his sins from the past couple of decades. My friend left that discussion convinced there was no hope. He couldn’t possibly deal with the guilt and regret of so many sins from so many years.

I think he, and maybe the priest, missed the point. God doesn’t want us to relive and feel guilty for our mistakes. We’re already doing that in a never ending cycle of fear and guilt, hiding and wondering when someone will find out. He wants us to confess so we can accept the forgiveness available through faith in Jesus. It’s not about punishment and guilt. It’s about moving forward in freedom.

If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. (James 5:15b-16)

The whole point of confession is healing, removing the burden of hiding the secret and wondering who knows. Confession allows me to stand in the light rather than skulking in the shadows.

Because of the guilt, doubt, and fear created by his secret in the sand, Moses lost his ability to advocate for justice. Even though he was right, he couldn’t stand before the penetrating question of a Hebrew slave.

We’ve been focusing on this verse as we prepare for our upcoming bike tour.

Learn to do right; seek justice.
Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
plead the case of the widow. (Isaiah 1:17)

We want to seek justice, defend the oppressed, etc. We hope to use the ride as a platform from which to create awareness and encourage people to become engaged in resisting the horrible injustice of human trafficking.

If I want to advocate for justice, I guess I need to make sure I don’t have any secrets buried in the sand.

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article ! Dixon
Copyright 2008-2013 by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:

Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com

Pigs And Perfume: Whitewashing a Tomb

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

My dad had a lot of “sayings.”

He seemed to have an adage for nearly any circumstance. Most were funny, many weren’t suitable for this blog or any other polite company.

One of his favorites was “pouring perfume on a pig.”

After he retired, Dad once served as an expert witness for an attorney in a highly technical legal proceeding. To Dad’s eye, the facts were clear and reasonable minds ought to look at what happened and agree on an obvious resolution.

Lawsuits, of course, aren’t that simple. The lawyer tried hard to justify all the years of expensive legal wrangling to Dad, who not-so-politely told him it was all a big pile of “stuff.”

“It’s just your way of sucking more money from these poor people,” he said, “and all your fancy words don’t make it stink any less. You’re just pouring perfume on a pig.”

Dad believed in telling it like he saw it. He wasn’t a church guy, but he and Jesus would have agreed on the painful results of hypocrisy. In fact, Jesus used His own colorful metaphor for the religious teachers who covered their dead teaching with fancy words.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” Matthew 23:27-28

In first-century Israel, a tomb was a stinking, rotting place—about as nasty as it gets. You could paint it and make it look good, as long as nobody inspected too closely. Because no amount of surface paint could conceal the systemic stench.

Whitewashing a tomb was as effective as pouring perfume on a pig.

Jesus condemned false religious piety, but there are other forms of everyday hypocrisy in which we all engage.

We’re often not very real…about pain, about doubt, about what we don’t know. We cover it with whitewash or perfume or fancy words. We pretend, we fake it, we present what we’re sure the world expects to see.

We paint ourselves with false happiness at church. We douse ourselves with cheap cologne, hoping to mask the scent of broken relationships, physical struggles, financial challenges, and personal darnkess rotting just beneath the surface.

We pretend no one sees what we’re hiding as we scramble to pour more perfume and splash more paint.

But they do see, because pouring perfume on a pig doesn’t change the pig.

What do you think might happen if we just stopped hiding?

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog here
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article ! Dixon
Copyright 2008-2012 by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of: Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com

Acceptance

Monday, November 12th, 2012

Romans 15:7: “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”

Have you ever tried your hardest to have someone accept you? Unfortunately I admit I have.

Sometimes we struggle to find success in our work. We find our value in what we do instead of who we are.

We may rush to the mall to buy clothes in the latest fashion or the “in color.” We define ourselves by what we wear.

We women may measure our self-confidence by our cooking skills and hospitality.

Men may compare their tools and electronic devices to seek acceptance.

However, our confidence is a God-confidence. Christ accepted us, and we weren’t perfect.

With Christ’s death on the cross for our sins, God accepted us and made us part of his heavenly family. Christ accepted us as his brothers and sisters.

Rather than see one another as competitors or enemies, we are to accept one another. The Bible doesn’t tell us to accept only people who share the same social or economic status. The Bible doesn’t tell us to accept people if they are the same color or race we are.

God’s Word tells us to accept one another in order to bring praise to God. We can accept one another and take advantage of our privilege to bring praise to God.

Dear God, help me accept others as Christ accepted me. Amen.

Application: What group of people or specific person does God want you to accept this week in order to bring praise to him?

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog here
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !
Copyright 2010-2012, Yvonne Ortega, LPC, LSATP, CCDVC

All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.
Yvonne is a Speaker, Author, Counselor, Cancer Survivor and
serves on the Board of Directors of Christians in Recovery.
She is the author of Finding Hope for Your Journey through Breast Cancer.
If you would like to have her speak for your organization or church, please contact her through
her website: http://YvonneOrtega.com

Humility in Recovery

Friday, July 6th, 2012

In recovery, we need to stay focused on the path ahead. There are many obstacles that can effortlessly obstruct our growth process. One deadly sin that we should always steer clear of is pride. Anyone in recovery is extremely susceptible to external hindrances because we were once slaves to them during our addiction. Outside hindrances can include numerous things, such as shame, resentment, fear, self-centeredness, and pride, among other things. If we are to evade these hazardous obstacles, we should harbor and uphold a humble spirit. Once we are finally clean and sober, have gone to meetings, and have worked the program, we learn that God alone can cure us of our past sins. We must surrender our will and our lives over to the care of God. And this, my friends, requires an act of humility.

Our Heavenly Father loves us all so very much that He will disregard and forget our past life of sin. Here’s an example from

Psalm 51: 5-10:
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin my mother conceived me.
Behold, You desire truth in the inwards parts,
And in the hidden part
You will make me know wisdom.
Purge me with hyssop,
and I shall be clean;
Wash me,
and I shall be whiter than snow.
Make me hear joy and gladness,
that the bones You have broken may rejoice.
Hide Your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

The moment we finally surrender our lives to God, we are saved from our sins. As we march forth in humility, we are showered with mercy and the all-powerful love of God.

The Bible states in Matthew 5: 3-5 that
Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek [humble], For they shall inherit the earth.

God provides guidance and comfort to those who possess a humble spirit. Those of us who think that we do not need Heavenly guidance are fools because God will distance Himself from anyone who is cursed with arrogance. When we remain humble and request God’s guidance, He will give us the ability to prevail over all the obstacles on our path, while renewing our power and helping us triumph over hardship. Humility is the necessary ingredient for triumph and success.

The Pioneer members of early Alcoholics Anonymous discovered the cure to alcoholism. That cure was Jesus Christ, and even the founders of A.A. recognized this. The early members of A.A. had a 75% to 93% success rate as they dedicated their lives to Christ, while living by Christian-based ideals and principles. They learned the true significance of humility and complete surrender.

Those of us in recovery today should understand that the only way to unearth true life is to submit it to God through Jesus Christ. As we turn our will and our lives over to Jesus, He will cleanse us of our addiction and show us the road to true peace and serenity-a life that is free of sinful dependency. As we pursue the teachings of the Bible, we will find meaning in our present life and ever-lasting peace with our Creator.

Matthew 10:39 states:
He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.

Now that we are treading the path toward full recovery, we require God’s assistance to keep us from stumbling. To ensure Heavenly guidance on our path, we need to humbly confess our sins to one another. This is one aspect of the recovery process that requires humility.

James 5: 16 in the Bible explains,
Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

As we step forth with a humble heart, we are blessed with peace of mind, and are healed from all unrighteousness.

John 14: 27 states:
I am leaving you with a gift-peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn’t like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

Humility is a tremendously imperative spiritual principle that should be embraced and utilized by everyone in recovery. Living in humility will enable us all to acquire the fruits of the Spirit.

Galatians 5: 22-25 explains,
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desire. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. As we confess our sins and turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, we are reborn in the Spirit.

We become new creatures in Christ, able to triumph over anything that could hinder our forward growth. The love of God washes over us and cleanses us of all unrighteousness. We are born again into the Kingdom of Light. We learn that if we ever need the guidance of our Heavenly Father, then all we need to do is ask.

Philippians 4: 6-7 states:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Good luck to all, and to all a good recovery.

By Terry D.

Christians in Recovery

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Why Humility?

Friday, January 27th, 2012

Humble yourselves. That sounds obscene. At least to the culture of self-promotion and “get ahead at all cost” and “don’t look back, the competition is gaining on you” it sounds obscene.

Humility is a forgotten virtue. Often confused with weakness or timidity, humility is about knowing our proper place in the world without flaunting it. Only God can exalt in a permanent way, so the key is to know our place before him and let him put us in the place he chooses to honor him.

A humble heart is tender towards God, and He responds when it cries out to Him. And that may be why He sometimes allows hard things into our lives – to bring forth the fruit of humility.

As God does great things in our midst, we don’t ever want to forget what He’s brought us through. We can do nothing without His intervention. But as we keep humble, contrite, tender hearts, there is no end to what He can accomplish not merely in our own lives, but for our children’s children.

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Copyright 2010-2012, Chaplain Michael Clark

All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.

Chaplain Clark is a Speaker and Writer,
Addiction Counselor/Professional

as well as a Recovery Support Specialist

Shadows of the Cross Ministries, Prison and Recovery Ministry