Archive for the ‘Step 6’ Category

Why Do I Have to Be Ready Again? Taking Step 6

Friday, August 17th, 2012

Many people (myself included) spend very little time, if any, on Step 6: “We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.” We think, “Hey! I was over ready when I first got into recovery!” or “I have been ready and eager at Steps 1, 2, 3, and 4.

Why do I have to be ready again?”

Why does Step 6 ask us to be entirely ready?

Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions tells us that this is the step that separates the men from the boys. After doing Steps 1-3 and taking inventory in Step 4 a lot of ground has been covered. We become aware of our defects which have so deeply affected our lives. Some are overwhelmed by the results of this inventory thinking that to clean house is well beyond their abilities.

Others are so comfortable with their defects they gloss over them; try to minimize them or disguise them as something less than a true defect. Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions comments: “What we must recognize now is that we exult in some of our defects. We really love them. who, for example doesn’t like to feel just a little superior to the next fellow, or even quite a lot superior? Isn’t it true that we like to let greed masquerade as ambition? To think of liking lust seems impossible. But how many men and women speak love with their lips, and believe what they say, so that they can hide lust in a dark corner of their minds? And even while staying within conventional bounds, many people have to admit that their imaginary sex excursions are apt to be all dressed up as dreams of
romance.”

Take another look at your inventory in the light of Step 6. Look at each defect and ask yourself, “Am I entirely ready to have God remove this defect of character?” Ask yourself if you are minimizing any one of these defects making it less important than it really is.

If you are feeling overwhelmed by your defects, remember, you do not do this alone! You are handing this over to the care of God. Say the prayer suggested in Alcoholics Anonymous (aka The Big Book pg. 76) “My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grantme strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding. Amen.”

Give God all of yourself, good and bad. Do not hold anything back! Ask Him to remove these things from your life which stand in the way of your wholeness.

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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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Can’t Forgive

Monday, March 12th, 2012

“Some actions just can’t be forgiven.”

It was a long time ago, in the midst of horrible circumstances, when a pastor said those six words to me.

I thought he mis-spoke. I asked him to repeat. He said it again, clearly and slowly and deliberately. “Some actions just can’t be forgiven.”

At the time I didn’t appreciate the level of pain. I just knew we should forgive, and I figured a pastor ought to know that. But knowing is easy. Everyone who follows Jesus, and even most who don’t, know about forgiving.

Knowing doesn’t help much.

# # #

There’s a story I tell sometimes when I’m speaking about  getting past adversity.

A young man named Cody stood in a courtroom, about to be sentenced for a tragic crime, one senseless moment that changed a bunch of lives forever. In one instant of careless driving, Cody swerved and hit two men who’d stopped to help a guy with car trouble.

Zach Templeton—dad, husband, and state trooper, died. Scott Hinshaw, his partner and best friend, was seriously injured. Now, as the man who killed his buddy and nearly killed him stood to be sentenced, Scott asked to speak. He spoke directly to Cody. Here’s part of what he said:

“I’m willing to stand with you and do community service with you and help you honor Zach.

“You messed up Cody, and that one decision cost a life.

“Although you did this … I refuse, and I do not want you, to let this ruin your life.

“You made a mistake. Do not let it define who you are.

“My advice to you is to be better than you can ever be …

“Carry on, brother. We’ll get better.”

This is where life gets real, where it’s not a set of lofty ideas, where that notion of “the valley of the shadow of death” isn’t just poetic imagery.

Ever been there? Thoughts?

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

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.

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

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

Change

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

If you’re committed to doing something differently in 2012 you might be thinking about

CHANGE

In Isaiah 43:18 God says, “I am doing a new thing. Now it springs up! Do you not perceive it?”

I believe He’s doing a new thing. My problem is the “perceiving” part. Last week I posted a story over at Rich’s Ride called The First Ride. Here’s  my take on the lesson from that simple event.

Life mostly doesn’t consist of dramatic changes and momentous decisions. Your present situation is the amalgamation of thousands of small choices that accumulate over months and years. We want to believe we can change course in an instant, but altering your long-term path is more like steering an aircraft carrier. Rather than instantaneous ninety-degree turns, life is more about one-degree corrections.

We don’t like slow, small change. We want to see results right now, and one-degree turns take a long time to show up. On a ten-foot journey a one-degree course change only alters your final position by about two inches. But if you maintain that one-degree alteration for one thousand miles your location changes by more than seventeen miles.

Each of us is one small choice, a single one-degree course correction, from a radically altered life. The changes don’t usually show up immediately. Life is long-term because God is long-term. Certainly there are times when God steps in and causes a one-eighty. But more often He works through everyday situations and circumstances.

I moved a bike I couldn’t move. That’s a miracle that changed my course, but nobody watching on that day would have recognized it. It’s the kind of miracle that’s only apparent downstream after hundreds and thousands of miles when you understand that you’re a long distance from where the original course would have led. It’s a one-degree miracle, and it alters everything that follows.

Perhaps it’s not water to wine, but it’s no less a miracle.

Mostly I think God works in our lives through one-degree miracles. We need to open our eyes and look carefully if we want to perceive them.

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

Regrets

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

“If you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way.First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”  Matthew 5:23-24, NKJV

Regrets. We all have them, don’t we? But one thing I’ve learned as we come closer to the end of our earthly life: ultimately it isn’t what we didn’t do for ourselves that we regret so much as what we didn’t do for others. I have absolutely no regrets over any kindness I’ve offered, any selfless deed I’ve performed, or any gift I’ve given. If I regret anything it’s those times I could have given but chose not to; times I served myself rather than others; times I spoke an unkind word rather than a healing one.

Billy Graham, in Nearing Home, writes, “Don’t come to the end of your life and look back with regret over a hurt that could have been forgiven or a relationship that could have been healed—if you had only seized the initiative and taken the first step.” Now is the time—right now, today, even this very moment—to seize the initiative and take that first step toward reconciling a broken relationship or encouraging someone in need or giving of yourself. How easy to put it off and tell ourselves we’ll do it “later,” but we aren’t promised later. This may be our only chance.

If we love God and regularly offer up praise and worship, prayers and thanksgiving to Him, then we need to heed the admonition in Matthew 5 to FIRST go to that one we’ve offended (or who has offended us) or from whom we are estranged for whatever reason—and do whatever we can to make it right. That person may or may not accept our efforts, but we will have gone a long way in ensuring we don’t reach the end of our earthly journey with a cartload of regrets following along behind us.

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !
Copyright 2011 Kathi Macias, all rights reserved. Used by permission.
Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored 30 books.
“Beyond Me. Living a You-first Life in a Me-first World”


and


“Mothers of the Bible Speak to Mothers of Today”

She also writes novels:
No Greater Love
More than Conquerors
The author can be reached at: http://www.kathimacias.com

Jesus Says “Sorry” Is A Verb

Saturday, February 19th, 2011

“I’m sorry.” Why are those two little words so difficult to say?

I made a mistake. I need to apologize. It’s not that hard.

So why is it so hard?

Maybe there’s a better question. Why is it so hard to say I’m sorry and really mean it? Or even better, what does it mean to really mean it?

That’s the real question: what does “being sorry” really mean?

Apologize … and MEAN it

I know this will shock you, but I occasionally broke the rules as a kid. I recall my mom telling me to apologize to someone. I’d comply grudgingly, and she’d say, “Now go back and say it like you MEAN it.”

Dad was a bit more concrete. “If you’re not sorry, I’ll MAKE you sorry!” Mostly an idle threat, but it worked on a little kid.

Sorry was about feeling bad. Sorry meant regret and shame and fear. If you felt enough of that stuff, then you were really sorry.

Jesus didn’t say much about feeling sorry, but He did talk about repentance. In Luke 13:3 He says, “…But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

Especially coming from Jesus, that’s the sort of thing you take seriously. Repent or die? I’ll feel bad, guilty, scared—I’ll feel guilty and regretful, I’ll beat myself up. Whatever it takes, I’ll be as sorry as possible to avoid that sort of punishment.

Huh?

Except—that doesn’t really fit with the rest of Jesus’ message. He doesn’t seem to be about instilling regret, shame, and fear.

In John 8 the religious leaders confronted Jesus with a woman caught in adultery. After He dealt with the leaders, He was alone with the woman. At the end of their conversation, He doesn’t embarrass or rebuke her or tell her to slink away in shame. Instead He simply instructs her, “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Maybe Biblical repentance isn’t about feeling bad. Maybe it’s not a feeling at all.

Maybe repent is a verb.

Biblical repentance means “to turn.” Jesus wants me to turn away from sin and toward God. He wants me to adopt God’s perspective. He doesn’t want me to feel bad—He wants me to leave my life of sin.

In 2 Corinthians 7 Paul discusses an issue of correction with the church. He explains that his intent wasn’t to harm them. Then in verse 10 he says, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”

Godly sorrow brings repentance that … leaves no regret.

Mom was right

Now that I think about it, that’s really what my mom wanted as well. She wasn’t interested in making me feel ashamed, but she did want me to turn away from wrong behavior.

I still need to apologize.

“I’m sorry.” I acknowledge and accept responsibility for my actions. I want to learn from my mistakes and make better choices. I want to look in God’s direction, not my own. I want a new beginning.

I want to move forward in faith, hope, and love.

Do you struggle to repent without feeling guilty or ashamed?

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

Dixon
Copyright 2010 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

Prove Your Love for God

Friday, January 28th, 2011

Beloved, if God so loved us,
we also ought to love one another (1 John 4:11, NKJV).

I am an avid follower and supporter of the Voice of the Martyrs and other such ministries that support believers around the world who suffer for their faith. As I read the stories of these courageous brothers and sisters, I am struck by the motivation for their courage: their great love.

To a person, those who stand strong for their faith in Christ despite persecution are marked by the depth of their love for God and others—including their tormentors. That sort of unwavering, selfless, forgiving love can flow only from a grateful heart that has first received the unconditional and undeserved love of the Father and the sacrificial gift of His Son. When we truly begin to grasp the enormity of God’s love for us, we can do nothing but respond with a thankful spirit and an outpouring of love for everyone we meet.

We all know people who seem unlovable. (This may be hard to believe, but there may even be some who consider us the unlovable ones!) Seriously, if God limited His love to those who deserved it, none of us would be able to receive it, would we? The Scriptures tell us “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, NKJV). God didn’t wait until we cleaned up our act or earned our way into His presence to make the supreme offering of love on our behalf; He did it while we turned our back to Him and went our own way, wallowing in the pigpen of our own making and proclaiming our own goodness each step of the way.

First John 4:8 proclaims the great truth that “God is love.” Apart from God, there is no love; all else that masquerades as such is a sham—lust, need, desire. God’s love is selfless, and that’s the sort of love He calls us to model to others. Not only is that a difficult thing to do, but it’s actually impossible in our own strength. Only the One who loves us without measure can flow that love through us to others. Immerse yourself in His boundless love today, and then prove your love for God by allowing it to flow from you to those who may be the most unlikely candidates and yet need it just as desperately as we do.

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !
Kathi Macias, all rights reserved. Used by permission.
Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored 30 books.
“Beyond Me. Living a You-first Life in a Me-first World”

and


“Mothers of the Bible Speak to Mothers of Today”

She also writes novels:

No Greater Love

More than Conquerors

The author can be reached at: http://www.kathimacias.com

Are You Still a Little Savage?

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

“Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me!” Psalm 51:5

Every baby starts life as a little savage. He is completely selfish and self-centered: he wants what he wants–his bottle, his mother’s attention, his playmate’s toys, his uncle’s watch, or whatever. Deny him these and he seethes with rage and aggressiveness which would be murderous were he not so helpless. He is dirty; he has no morals, no knowledge and no developed skills. This means that all children, not just certain children, but all children are born delinquent. If permitted to continue in their self-centered world of infancy, given free reign to their impulsive actions to satisfy each want–every child would grow up a criminal, a killer, a thief, and a rapist.”
~ Reb Bradley, “Biblical Insights into Child Training”

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

“Remember that children are born with a decided bias toward evil, and therefore if you let them choose for themselves, they are certain to choose wrong. The mother cannot tell what her tender infant may grow up to be–tall or short, weak or strong, wise or foolish–all is uncertain. But one thing the mother can say with certainty–he will have a corrupt and sinful heart! It is natural for us to do wrong. Our hearts are like the earth on which we tread–let it alone, and it is sure to bear weeds!”
~ J. C. Ryle

“Every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood.” Genesis 8:21

Application: Prayerfully consider in what ways you remain selfish or self-centered. Ask God to open your eyes to see yourself as you really are and then ask Him to bring you healing.

Willing To Be Willing

Friday, November 26th, 2010

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger… [Ephesians 4:21(a)]

Do you cling to any traces of bitterness?

Last week I wrote about talking to a younger version of me (Teaching Me). As I re-read my account of learning a scarcity mentality, it felt like I wrote a bit dispassionately. My words seemed somewhat cold and academic; I think I told the story but scrubbed away the raw emotions.

Fact is, I still harbor some bitterness toward my dad. I’m not proud of that, but there it is.

He did what he knew—there was no evil intent on his part. And he’s been gone for more than a year. Why am I still bitter?

Sometimes bitterness is right out in the open. Someone harms me and I want to strike back. I want vengeance. I want to get even.

That sort of acrimony can bury me in hatred, but at least it’s apparent. I see the danger, and I can choose to confront and resolve it.

I think the nastiest form of bitterness sneaks into the dark corners of our hearts. It hides behind old hurts and almost-forgotten struggles and festers within accumulated, unacknowledged slights. This subtle bitterness secretes venom in nearly imperceptible doses until our hearts harden and crack from long-term toxic exposure.

Bitterness also seems to create a cycle like the steps in the picture. The poison engenders more anger and an escalating desire for vengeance, leading to even greater bitterness. It’s an endless death spiral, every downward step leading inevitably to the next.

I have a sense that there’s no such thing as a “little” bitterness. One taste of “getting even” leaves us wanting more and still more, and down the steps we go.

Antidote

The encouraging aspect of the steps is that they lead eternally down—or up. I think we get to choose which direction we travel. So if bitterness destroys like poison, what’s the antidote? What’s the secret to stepping upward?

I think the antidote is forgiveness. I need to recognize my dad’s impact (done), acknowledge the pain (done), and then sincerely let go of the resentment (uhhh…apparently not quite done).

I don’t wish to be overly self-critical. Forgiveness isn’t an event as much as a process. As my friend Jeff Lucas says, the critical step is “to be willing to be willing” to forgive. Perhaps that’s the key to turning the cycle around and walking up the steps toward light and freedom.

It’s not about sprinting, or even getting, to the top. It’s about stepping up rather than down.

If my feelings are an accurate barometer, I don’t think I’ve completely forgiven my dad yet. But I am willing to be willing. Hopefully that gets me going up the steps, because I’m tired of trudging downward.

You? Any old resentments hanging out in the shadows? Are you willing to let go, or at least willing to be willing?

Bitterness imprisons life. Love releases it.
Bitterness paralyzes life. Love empowers it.
Bitterness sours life. Love sweetens it.
Bitterness sickens life. Love heals it.
Bitterness blinds life. Love anoints its eyes.
Harry Emerson Fosdick

I’d tell the younger version of me to choose love and forgiveness, to do his best to walk up the steps. The journey down isn’t all that satisfying.

How about you?