Archive for the ‘Step 9’ Category

Finding Common Ground

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

A comment from my wise wife brings today’s word-of-the-week…

COMMON


“The way you share your story creates common ground.”

Becky consistently guides me back to the central importance of relationships. She says my story removes barriers because it includes elements with which everyone can identify.

Someone asked me recently how I can work with the men at Harvest Farm when I don’t have any experience with addiction, homelessness, violence, or jail. My answer is Becky’s wisdom: I take time to form relationships.I go to their place and spend time with them and get to know them. I focus on what unites us instead of what makes us different. I don’t offer easy answers to hard questions.

It’s not magic. Like Becky said, it’s all about finding common ground.

We shy away from speaking up for communities of which we’re not members. We wonder if our sincerity will be questioned, if we’ll use the wrong words, if we’ll offend someone, if perhaps things would be better if we remained silent.

The truth is, your sincerity WILL be questioned, you WILL make mistakes, and if you’re committed those aren’t reasons to stay on the sidelines. But to increase your effectiveness, you need to engage.

Form relationships. Step beyond your own familiar comfort zone. Go to their place. Get to know them. Learn their stories. Know in advance it’ll be scary and rewarding.

Show that you’re willing to risk of taking the time and doing the hard work to find common ground.

Kind of like Jesus did.

Reconciliation with God, Others and Yourself

Monday, March 30th, 2015

Reconciliation has many aspects: reconciliation with others (who you have offended or who have offended you), reconciliation with yourself. Reconciliation with God.

Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines it as:
1. The act of reconciling parties at variance; renewal of friendship after disagreement or enmity.
Reconciliation and friendship with God, really form the basis of all rational and true enjoyment.
2. In Scripture, the means by which sinners are reconciled and brought into a state of favor with
God, after natural estrangement or enmity; the atonement; expiation.

— How do you define reconciliation in your own practical terms?
— Has it been missing from your life and/or recovery?
— What issues and difficulties have you encountered finding reconciliation with:

** God
** Others whom you have hurt or who have hurt you
** Yourself

— Do any scriptures speak to your heart regarding reconciliation?

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Dealing with Self-righteous People

Monday, March 2nd, 2015

Self-righteous people are just comparing.

I never thought about it like that until Don Miller pointed out that self-righteousness is really just a way of building myself up by tearing others down. It’s not about being truly righteous, only appearing to be in a bit better class of sinner than the next guy.

That’s why self-righteous folks are so concerned with rules. Man-made rules are nearly always designed to distinguish who’s doing it better, even if the distinctions are artificial.

I started thinking about Jesus’ principles and realized they’re never like that. You can’t rank people based on how much they love. You just love, as much as possible, and there’s always more where that came from. Same for grace, hope, truth, mercy, compassion, forgiveness—you start trying to measure and compare that stuff and you start looking pretty silly.

You can’t force people to do the things that matter to Jesus—love, forgive, and all the rest—and you can’t make rules about them. Jesus reserved his harshest condemnation for the Pharisees who substituted their own burdensome rules for the freedom of following His principles.

I learning that God doesn’t care much if I love right, or forgive right, or do compassion right. He doesn’t grade on a curve—in fact, He doesn’t grade at all.

I think He celebrates when we try our best to do those things and forget about keeping score.

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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 are the Results of Your Words?

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

As someone who has had instances of writer’s block, this scripture frequently comes to mind:

Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter anything before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few. Ecclesiastes 5:2

Granted, it doesn’t always feel conducive to the writing process; words are kind of important. Nevertheless, I suppose it is worth pondering.

The tongue has the power of life and death and those who love it will eat its fruit. Proverbs 18: 21

I remember, as a kid, having some cutesy stationery with babies, spouting statements like “Be patient; God isn’t finished with me” and “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak up and remove all doubt.” That one really stuck with me. And, it was only years later I discovered that cutesy slogan was, in fact, scriptural.

He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit. Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding. Proverbs 17:27-28

Furthermore, there’s a little thing called consequences:

The lips of fools bring them strife,
and their mouths invite a beating.
The mouths of fools are their undoing,
and their lips are a snare to their very lives. Proverbs 18:6-7

Yeah, that’s not appealing. I don’t know about you, but being ensnared does NOT sound like a party to me.

I keep thinking about Shakespeare’s character, Hamlet going on a tear about “Words, words, words…” and we know how well THAT went. (If you don’t, please feel free to look it up).

The point is, words carry results with them, either positive or negative; they’re not neutral.

The tongue has the power of life and death and those who love it will eat its fruit. Proverbs 18: 21

Do we get it right? Most of the time, probably NOT. Yet, that’s no excuse not to pay attention to the principle at all.

So, worth considering, words be few.

There’s some merit to the writer’s block condition after all.


Copyright by Sheryle Cruse.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.
Sheryle is the author of
Thin Enough: My Spiritual Journey Through the Living Death of an Eating Disorder.
Visit her web site: http://www.freewebs.com/daughterarise

“It doesn’t hurt anyone else so it is OK.”

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

It is very easy for me to get swept up with the crowd, do what everyone else is doing, agree with what everyone else is saying. I think this has its roots in my people pleasing and codependent tendencies. But because I am a child of God I know in my heart of hearts that following the crowd rarely leads to anything good. People are just lemmings heading over the cliff.

God has provided me with His Standard and it is found in Scripture. He makes it quite clear what his direction is and what His desires for me are. It is up to me to continue to be aware of His directions and to apply His desires to my life.

It is easy to become desensitized. The news media keeps telling us smoking pot is harmless. Homosexuality is “normal.” It is OK to bend the rules. Situational ethics are what matter, not what God says. It is OK to steal just as long as you are not caught.

How often have we heard “This doesn’t hurt anyone else so it is OK.”

WRONG!

It does affect me (if I am doing the wrong thing). It affects my loved ones when they see me doing the wrong thing. It affects my relationship with God. So I have to work at remaining very sensitive to what God says — and desensitizing myself to what the world says.

If someone says something loud enough and often enough it can start sounding like the truth. But there is only one Truth. I have to remember that.

“If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”  John 8:31-32

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~ * ~
Copyright by S. O. Brennan.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.
S.O. Brennan is the Director of
Christians in Recovery and Alcoholics Victorious

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)

Following Ezra

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

“For Ezra had prepared his heart to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.” Ezra 7:10

If I would be like Ezra the scribe, bringing things new and old out of a full treasury, and guiding the feet of the perplexed into the ways of peace–I must look in four directions:

1. First, I shall turn my gaze inwards upon my HEART. “Ezra had prepared his heart to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord.” Ezra had prepared his heart, and so must I. I must understand that vital religion is deeper . . .
than external observance of religious rituals,
than a valiant confession of the lips,
than an ordered theological belief system.
It is the soul convinced of sin, confiding the Savior, filled from above with penitence and faith and peacefulness and power.

He alone can plead with others and can prevail–who has undergone this most radical change, and whose heart is prepared for his work by its simple trust in the redeeming and quickening mercy of his Good Physician.

2. Then I shall give attention to my MIND. For “Ezra had prepared his heart to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord.” He was a pupil in the school of the heavenly oracles. He hungered and thirsted for clearer and profounder and more adequate conceptions of that wisdom which is eternal and divine.

To the last of my life, I must be a disciple and student of God’s Word. He has more light and truth to break forth from His holy Word; but He reveals them to those alone who search and dig for them as for hidden treasure. How can I feed my fellows with the bread of the soul, unless I am busy appropriating and enjoying it myself?

3. And I shall be watchful over my LIFE. “Ezra had prepared his heart to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord.” Ezra was careful not merely to study the Word, but to DO it. He was saint as well as scholar! Day after day, the purifying Word kept him from staining his garments, and made his character gracious and godly. The sermon I preach by what I AM–is more eloquent than the sermon I preach by what I SAY!

4. And, finally, I shall guard and train and hallow my LIPS. It was Ezra’s ambition to teach God’s decrees and laws in Israel–to speak . . .
when the fitting opportunity presents itself;
with no affectation, but naturally and sincerely;
as a dying man to dying men;
the unyielding truth in love and pity and tears;
to the glory of God.

May I tread in the wake of Ezra the scribe!

(Alexander Smellie, “The Secret Place” 1907)

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Subtle Sin

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

Had

I become
so preoccupied

with
major sin

from deep
within

that
in the
darkened
night

I lost sight

of
my need

to deal
for real

with
the more

subtle
sins?

Does
the
subtle
sin of worry

still
tell a
lingering
story?

Or anxiety
that
menace

of society?

More so
that

subtle sin
of
irritability,

unthankfulness?

Or
that harsh
word,

demanding
to
be heard?

Need
I now
revisit

the
unloving
actions
of a

critical
spirit?

Oh, my goodness,
Father

What
A wake up
call

I am

guilty

of them
all!

~*~

Copyright: Rev.Bola Animashaun – all rights reserved.
Rev. Animashaun is the Pastor of Christians Victorios Fellowship – Int., UK
and a Member of Christians in Recovery.

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?

We’re supposed to love everyone. “Yes, but…”

Friday, April 25th, 2014

“We’re supposed to love everyone, aren’t we?”

“Yes, but…”

“I don’t think we can add a ‘but…’.”

As I understand it, the conversation pretty much died at that point.

When it comes to stuff like love, grace, and forgiveness, there’s no such thing as a “but…” And if you’re like me, that’s tough to get your heart around.

I don’t want the cold-hearted serial child molester to receive salvation and have his sins wiped away when he accepts Jesus. I really don’t want to love the person unconditionally who does things or holds views with which I strongly disagree.

Every bit of logic screams that some cases demand a “but…”

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:32-36)

Jesus proposed a different sort of logic, one in which there’s no such thing as “love, but….”

What would happen if we all found places where we put strings on love and worked to remove them?

No more “love, but..” Just love.

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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