Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The Two Pillars of Sustained Recovery: Living a Lifestyle of Faith and Recovery


Audio Message:


Today I’d like to talk to you about living a Lifestyle of Faith and Recovery:

It’s been an honor to be among you these last eight weeks. I’ll be leaving this Sunday, but I just wanted to share briefly a final thought about faith and recovery, and how they intertwine.

Many of you, hopefully most of you will someday in the next 6 months or sooner, graduate this program and go back into the world out there. And how you order your life will determine whether you’ll survive to live a new life, or whether you’ll die in addiction.

So how, How do we order our lives out there? Set up a weekly schedule. When you have a little time, grab a notebook, and write out your plan. Obviously you’re going to have your work hours first. Then set up the rest of the week. In early recovery, I made sure I was hitting 3 to 5 AA or NA meetings a week. So, say, NA meeting on Monday at 7 pm, then I did a Tuesday and Thursday meeting of AA. On Wednesday I had small group Bible study at my church. So you Google AA NA meetings near your apartment when you get out, and get that set up. Then you google some churches in your area, and you check out their services on Sunday, and get plugged in with a Bible study.

Listen, if you just get out, work a job, have an apartment, and then go sit at your apartment during your off hours, that isn’t smart. You’re going to be sitting there, feeling lonely, disconnected, and that sick mind is going to start working. And pretty soon, the old friends are getting called up, and then the relapse happens. Then you lose the job, lose the apartment, and welcome back to the ARC. That’s not what we want.

Order your week. Live a lifestyle of faith and recovery. Every week, like clockwork, 3-5 meetings, Bible study, and church services on Sunday. You get to know people at those places, you get connected and you start to network. You find a sponsor. You find someone at the church who can mentor you and guide you toward Jesus.

Order your life. Get on fire for this stuff. Get excited about this stuff. Order your days, live a lifestyle of recovery. Begin in the morning with prayer. Finish the day with your Bible, in bed, studying it diligently.

God will help you to stay clean and sober. But faith without works is dead. God does his part by removing our sins, and setting us free from the compulsion to use and drink. Our part is to do the footwork, to attend our meetings, Bible studies, and work the steps. And never give up. Never, ever give up.

The big mistake I see people in recovery make, is they remove one of the two pillars that hold their future up. Recovery works by two great pillars: Christian Church Life and 12 Step Recovery Groups. Faith and Recovery, they are companions that walk side by side for the addict in recovery. If you remove the Christian Church, the addict may stay clean, but they’ll have no real life in themselves, they’ll be a shadow, a miserable, empty person. If the addict only attends Christian church life, and neglects 12 step recovery groups, their chances of staying clean drop way down. I’ve seen it many, many times. A self-righteous religious spirit develops in them, that says I don’t need recovery anymore. God led you to recovery. Even if the addict does stay clean, they will have left behind a lot of the internal work of healing that happens in the steps, and the opportunities to make amends and work with suffering addicts.

Faith and Recovery, keep both in your life always and you won’t have to stumble in either direction.

Most of you are coming back from depths of darkness few men ever return from. Be patient with the healing and growth. It will take years of sustained effort to find comprehensive healing. Be patient, and never give up. In conclusion, there’s a portion of the Bible, from the letter of 2nd Corinthians chapter 4 that I think really hits this all home. It says:

2 Corinthians 4:1,6-10,14-18 (NLT) 1 Therefore, since God in his mercy has given us this new way, we never give up.

6 God said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.

7 We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.

8 We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. 9 We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. 10 Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.

14 We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you. 15 All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.

16 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.



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Sunday, August 5, 2018

William Booth's Mount Purity: The Six Stages of the Climb


Audio Message:



According to astrophysicist Dr. Hugh Ross, there are 122 constants that allow for life to exist on planet Earth. And if even one of these constants were adjusted, there would be no life on Earth.

Let’s look at a few of those constants. First, oxygen. 21% of our atmosphere is oxygen. If it were 25% fire would erupt spontaneously everywhere. If it were 15% we’d all suffocate instantly. It’s the same with the carbon dioxide levels, up or down, and we’d either burn up or suffocate.

Water vapor. If water vapor levels were even slightly different, no life.

Jupiter. Did you know the planet Jupiter acts like a cosmic vacuum cleaner, attracting asteroids and comets away from Earth? Without Jupiter, no life on Earth. We’d be annihilated by space debris. 



The Earth’s crust is also at just the perfect thickness, just right amount of oxygen is transferred to the crush, and it’s thick enough to prevent excessive volcanic activity.

The 24-hour day. If the Earth’s rotation took longer than 24 hours, temperature differences between night and day would render life impossible.

Earth actually rotates on a crooked axis tilt, at 23 degrees. If it were even a little different, by a single degree, surface temperatures would fluctuate too much for life to exist.

Lightning. If there was no lightning, no life. Seismic activity. If there were no earthquakes, no life on Earth.

Gravity. If gravity was only slightly different in our solar system, there would be no sun. No life. If the gravitational force were altered by 0.00000000000000000000000000000000000001 percent, no sun.

There are 122 constants all at play that allow life to exist on Earth, if any were changed even a little, there would be no life. Amazing isn’t it?

The Bible says the universe is a reflection of the glory of God. The heavens declare his glory. The expansiveness of the universe is an expression of the infinite nature of God. Which is why we praise God.


1st Peter 1:3-9 NIV says: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

I like that part where it says, “Though you have not seen him, you love him. Even though you don’t see him now, you believe in Him.” That’s the hard part of Christianity isn’t it? It’s believing in Jesus, even though we’ve never met him. I’ve never personally looked into the eyes of my savior Jesus. I’ve never given him a hug. I’m never listened to him tell a story. It’s challenging, to believe in that which we can’t see.

We can reason from science that there seems to be a great order to the universe. We can reason that the complexity of human and animal life is evidence for God. We can look at the historical Jesus, and the manuscript evidence for the Bible. But at the end of the day, we have to dare to believe, and to trust in Jesus.

Many of us think of religion as trying to be good so God will accept us. That is not Christianity. For a Christian, we come to Jesus Christ, this historical figure, who was crucified on the cross, and rose from the dead. We come to Jesus, whom we believe is God who came to Earth. We come to Jesus where we are, in brokenness, in sin, and we ask Jesus to make us new. Then Jesus causes us to be born again, born a second time, but this is a spiritual rebirth. Then we are changed by Jesus, and we join a spiritual community, to grow in our relationship with Christ, be set free from every sin we struggle with, and to serve Jesus. When we do that, we have the promise of eternal life. Even after death, Jesus will resurrect us, just like He resurrected. And we'll live forever. It's not about trying to be good for God, it's about Jesus coming into us, removing our sins, and giving us a new pure life.

Now that can be information outside of us. Or it can become personal. How can we access this beautiful salvation, and be transformed by it? We have to come directly to Jesus Christ. And that starts with believing that Jesus Christ is really who he says he is.

Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” –John 11:25-26




We must cry out to Jesus. Jesus is alive right now. He conquered the grave. And Jesus went to the cross for each of us. He knew exactly what he was doing. He was nailed to the cross, and left to die, for our sins. Our sins were nailed to the cross with Jesus. All the sins we’ve committed, all the drinking, drugs, people we’ve hurt, pornography, lies, abuse, manipulation, we’re freed from it, and it’s put upon Jesus. And Jesus gives us his righteousness. 


And when Jesus makes us pure, by removing our sins, and putting them on himself, then we are pure and righteous because of Jesus, and because we become pure and righteous in Christ, then we are clean and spotless and able to go to heaven, to eternal life, where we will live with God in paradise, for all time. Can you dare to believe, right now, that your sins were nailed to the cross with Jesus? 

God loves you, but He hates your sins. So throw them upon Jesus on the cross. He will set you free, and make you to be born again. God has a plan for a new heavens and a new earth. And we will be immortal. We’ll never have to die. We’ll live in joy, with the animals, in a perfect place, in constant communion with God our heavenly Father. Jesus came, full of grace and truth, to save us.

And similarly, there are two primary attributes of God the Father. Firstly, God is love. God our heavenly Father loves us, like a good father loves his son or daughter. Many of us did not have good loving fathers. But God our heavenly father is perfect in his love. He cares about us. He’s calling us home to himself. He has great compassion for us. He loves you. Yes, even you. He is a very good and tenderly loving Father.

Secondly, but just as much as God is love, God is holy. To say God is holy is to say God is perfect, immaculate, and complete. Holy means perfect in morality, perfect in truth, perfect in judgments, perfect in all ways. God is not like us. God is holy, holy, holy, as the angelic beings say of Him. "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty, who was, who is, and who is to come. The alpha, and the omega, the first, and the last, the beginning and the end." -Revelation 4:8

God designed your soul. He decided the world needed one of you. He particularly crafted who you are, and knows you better than you know yourself. He sees your past, your present, and your future. He sees everything. 


He is 'other.'  He is not like us. He is holy beyond us, the architect of the universe, this planet, the human soul, and governor of all reality and space time. God made us in his likeness, in his own image. Therefore, we understand why God commands us:

"Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” -1st Peter 1:13-16

We are called to holiness. Holiness in the sense the Salvation Army uses it, according to William Booth the founder, is entire deliverance from sin. The essence of sin is selfishness. Holiness means to have a soul mastered by love. So holiness is deliverance from sin, and once sin is removed, that place is filled with love instead.

This is a journey that we all ought to take together. It’s a journey upon a great and beautiful mountain. William Booth calls it mount purity, in his book "The Seven Spirits, or What I teach My Officers" Booth wrote: “Those living on its summit have glorious glimpses of the towers and palaces of the celestial city. Those who reach that heavenly height must climb what the Bible calls the “Highway of Holiness.” And they will usually find it a rugged, difficult journey, often having to fight every inch of the way.” Booth refers to six stages of this journey up mount purity. Let us consider them together.

The first stage is the awakening stage. This is where we begin to see the mountain. We’ve become a Christian, but we begin to hunger for freedom from every sin. We want freedom from cigarettes, pornography, rage, selfishness, food addiction, lusting after women, television addiction, obsession with money, gossip, slandering others, and so on. We begin to desperately want freedom from sin. We despair of sin, because we know God hates sin. At the first stage we have no rest until we resolve to take the journey up the mountain.

The second stage is where we write our name in the book of: “I will have it.” We resolve to have holiness, no matter the cost. This is the stage of constant prayer. We are praying every day and night begging God for holiness. The song of our daily thoughts is of holiness, freedom from sin. This can go on for a long time.

The third stage is called the wrestling stage. This is where we’ll be tempted to turn back. This is where we come against opposition from others who don’t want us to make it. People try to pull us back and convince us not to go. This is where your mind will tell you again and again: "It can’t be done! You can’t be holy! There’s no way in this world." Your mind, and the people around you will all be insisting that you can’t make it, that you have to stay stuck in sin forever. “You can’t be holy,” the enemy whispers to you again and again. It’s a lie. Be patient. Fight on. And keep going. 


As the song says: “The Lamb shall take my sins away. It’s certain, though impossible. The thing impossible shall be, all things are possible to me.” When our mind insists its impossible, it’s because it is. Thankfully Christ makes the impossible, possible.

The fourth stage is a glorious plateau, all who enter by "this narrow passage of true repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ" enter by faith. In this place, we pass from confusion, from unbelief, from the nagging assumption that it cannot be done, to a realization that it’s inevitable. We realize God is doing it, and we’ve yielded to the process. We go from endlessly suffering under the unbelief that: I can’t be holy, to the blessed assurance that: ‘I will be holy, thanks to Jesus.’ I’ve been declared holy in Christ, but now Christ is sanctifying me (Hebrews 10:14).

Booth said of stage four: “Here men and women walk with heads erect in holy confidence, and hearts glad with living faith, and mouths full of joyous song, and eyes steadily fixed on the holy light that streams from the summit of the mount above them.” God has made us conquerors of our inward foes, we’re living in confident victorious progress.

Stage five is the stage of deliverance, where the triumph begins. At the fifth stage “the separation from sin is entire: the heart is fully cleansed from evil; the promise is proved to be true.” –William Booth, The Seven Spirits, pg. 32. The Salvation Army believes that “Christ can make a poor sinner into a perfect saint.” As it is written: “Be perfect therefore, as your Father in Heaven is perfect.” -Matthew 5:48

Stage six is the stage at which one comes to the highest plateau, in which the graces of the Spirit have been perfected by experience, faith, and obedience, and the soul does the will of God as it is done in Heaven, united in the eternal companionship of that lovely being, the Spirit. Stage five begins the triumph, and stage six is maturity and growth in victory.

Be holy God said, for I myself I am holy. Live a pure life. We can do that. We will do that. We will fight for that. We will trust in Christ for that. God will provide. We have a holy loving Father. And He is calling us to a holy loving life. 



Sunday, July 29, 2018

The Glorious Road Home: Learning to Suffer for Jesus

Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, cc 2.0
Audio Message


Introduction
As we consider today the glorious road home, we can often feel confused, by the difficulties we face, the addictions, the sorrows, and the challenges. Sometimes we wonder, is this difficult way, really right? This brings to mind a poem by Rosalind Goforth, it goes like this:

“Is this the right road home, Lord? The clouds are dark and ominous,

The stony path is hard to walk, Each step brings fresh pain.

I thought the way would be brighter? And that the sun with warmth would glow,

And joyous songs from play overhead. Is this really the Right Road Home?

Yes my child, replied Jesus: This very path I trod, The clouds were dark for me,

The stony path was sharp and hard. I didn’t walk by sight, but by faith

That at the end, the sun shines bright, Forever, where there is no more night or pain, 


And glad hearts rest from earth’s fierce fight, it is the Right road Home!” -Rosalind Goforth, in Sunday School Times (revised) 

There is a road set before us. But it’s not like the other roads we see, and travel on. This is a spiritual road. It’s a difficult road. It means dogged fighting, it means intense spiritual warfare. It means denying yourself, and serving Jesus. This is the road I call you to today.

As a partner with God in ministry, I beg you to follow this road, 2 For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.” Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.

But I give you this warning: We will have to endure many difficulties along the way. Indeed, all of you are now struggling in various ways, to remain clean and sober, and to pursue a new life.

Trials
Now, at the beginning, will be the hardest time to stay clean and sober. Now will be the hardest time to follow Jesus. We must patiently endure trials, hardships, calamities. Each of these three are slightly different.

Trial – God is testing our faith through a difficulty, and when the difficulty passes, we find our faith purified like a fire purifies metal, and we’re more mature and joyful after the trial is over

Hardship – Hardship is something we have to endure, usually over time. Maybe our baby’s mother is just cruel to us, and won’t let us see our son or daughter. Or we’re afflicted with serious back pain for a season. Those are hardships. And all we can really do is endure them, and cry out to God for help in the difficulty.

Calamity – the dictionary definition of a calamity is ‘a great misfortune or disaster, as a flood or serious injury.’ As a Christian insane stuff will happen. And you’ll be amazed by what you’re having to go through. This is like, losing a family member. Or discovering we have cancer. Or we get fired from a great job. Calamity is a world shaking event.

Being Transformed
But there is another dynamic at work. Over time we begin to see a glorious, beautiful road of recovery open up before us. We see that Christ is slowly but surely transforming us into the likeness of God. And it’s so beautiful. There is peace, and serenity in our souls, after so many years of brokenness, and sorrows, and addictions.

But we have to walk the walk. We have to really live for Jesus, and prove it by how we live.

2nd Corinthians 6 indicates how we show ourselves to be true Christians.

Verse 6 says: “…by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love.

And verse 7 says “God’s power is at work in us.” There is actually God inside us, changing us. That’s amazing. 

The World Doesn't Know Us
The people of the world around us don’t get It. It doesn’t make sense to them. They wonder why we don’t go indulge in sin with them, they think we’re superstitious fools. They don’t understand the mystery of Christ.

Which is why… verse 8 says: “We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us.”

v.9: “We are ignored, even though we are well known.” The world doesn’t want to hear from us or listen to us. They mock us on television and in the news. They call us hypocrites, and take one example, like Westboro Baptist church, or a megachurch prosperity teacher and use it to slander every Christian in America. We’re called bigots because we don’t agree with certain lifestyles. They call us judgmental, because we live by the ethical standards of the Bible.

If you’re a new Christian today, welcome to the struggle. It isn’t easy. But we can still love these people, even if they hate us. We don’t ever have to hate them back. In fact, we return hate with love.

Struggles of this Fallen World
V.9 continues: “We live close to death, but we are still alive.” –All of us in this room know what it’s like to live on the edge of death. I mean, we were parked there. There was a little run down diner sitting on the edge of the earth, right at the face of a cliff and we got up each day and dared that abyss to eat us, when we were in addiction. Now it’s time to leave the diner of self-destruction.

When I was active in addiction I called it the halfway hotel, that little dump on the edge of destruction where I cut myself to pieces with drugs, day by day, piece by piece. One day I had to get up, and walk out that door forever.
“We have been beaten, but we have not been killed.” The Center for Studies on New Religions found in a recent study that Christianity is the #1 most persecuted religion in the world. They found that in 2016 over 90,000 Christians were killed for their faith. Thankfully in the United States we still enjoy religious liberty. But for many in 50 countries, according to Open Doors USA, they can either be arrested for owning a Bible, or face deadly persecution if they profess Christ. Few of us have ever been beaten for being a Christian, like Paul talks about in 2nd Corinthians 6. But who knows what the future holds. Perhaps some of us may be lucky enough to suffer in that way for Christ. 

And verse 10 says: “Our hearts ache, but we always have joy.” As a Christian my heart aches often in this world. I look upon the lostness and troubles in the world, and my heart aches. Yet at the same time I have this inexpressible joy in my heart, as I turn my eyes to Jesus. The Bible says that in the last days the love of many will grow cold. We must continue to have love. Instead of looking at the chaos in the world, return your eyes to the beauty and perfection of Jesus our King. 

Having an Eternal Perspective
V.10“We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others.” Some of us were wealthy in the past. Some of us owned our own businesses, and some of us had houses, cars, and money. But all that wealth couldn’t stop the drugs from taking over. Wealth is fleeting in this life. And there is no way to take a single dollar with us into the next. We do 80 to 90s years at most in this life. It’s very short. So we have to fix our eyes on eternal things. Many of us put as our number one goal in life to get money, to try to get rich. And it’s a dumb goal because we all grow old and die. Better to focus on gathering wealth in heaven, by serving Jesus.

Do you think we’re just faking all this? Do you think we do this just for the fun of it? If I thought it was fake, and Jesus wasn’t really real, I’d be out there partying and doing whatever I want. Jesus Christ is really God and He is really alive, right now. And I know there are only two places I can go, heaven or hell. There is no 3rd option. So I serve Jesus today, because I want to live in paradise forever.

V.10“We own nothing, and yet we have everything.” Everything I have belongs to God. I have nothing. I didn’t join the Salvation Army to get rich, believe me, it doesn’t work like that. I joined the Salvation Army to do God’s will. I’m going to serve Jesus, and be very rich in the next life, in good deeds, and service to the lost. I’ve got a plan here. I’m following Jesus, because God is making a new heavens and a new Earth where we will be immortal.

Do you get that? It’s real. I’m telling you it’s real. I’ve experienced Christ. I’ve seen him change my life, from being near death, in and out of detox, jails, and hospitals, from living years in the blackest depression, addicted, enslaved, body collapsing, suicide always on my mind, and yet Jesus Christ heard me when I cried upon His name, and He saved me. 

The Remaking of All Things
The City of God, the New Earth, it’s all real. There will be golden fields, and grassy meadows, and mansions for each of us to live in, God will be everywhere with us, Jesus will talk to us, and all knowledge will be available to us. We will sing, dance, and praise Jesus, and be filled joy, euphoria, with bliss. And it will never have to end, it will never have to break to suffering or pain. The joy and peace and love and happiness of the City of God will be endless. We will be there with Jesus. We will be conscious. I’ll still be me; you’ll still be you. And if you’ll give your life to Jesus, and turn from all your sins, and fight through the struggles of this life, you’ll be given a crown of glory when you arrive in paradise.

But the other is also quite real, hell. It will be blackest darkness. You will be conscious. You’ll know that being sent there was just of God, because of your sins. You’ll suffer because God is not in hell and fires of His judgment roar. There is only pain in hell, not the slightest good feeling, not even for a moment. And you’ll know, that there is no way out. You’ll know that it’s now too late to repent and believe in Jesus. The window of opportunity will have closed forever.

Which is why I say again: Today is the day of salvation! Today, if you feel the Spirit of Christ moving in you, respond to His voice and take up your place in His kingdom. He is calling you to be part of his holy temple, the body of Christ.

The Temple of God
2nd Corinthians 6:16-18 says, these are the words of God: “I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people.[e]
17 Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord.
Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you.[f]
18 And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”

Christ our Lord will make you part of his temple. He removes all of our sins. He causes us to be reborn, but not born of a mother and father, but born of God. Jesus can and will transform you completely. If you feel His grace urging you to call on Him, do so now: Call on the name of Jesus Christ. Believe ‘Jesus can help me!’ He is your Savior, your Redeemer, Your new birth, and your King forever. Turn away from sin and be holy set apart, and God himself will be your Father.

Conclusion
I see the road before us. It’s a high way, with light shining down through the tree tops. We see the road looks difficult and winding steadily upward toward heaven. And we see the other road, the easy road, that leads down into darkness. Come with me, on the road of sorrow and suffering, follow Jesus, onto the steady difficult road upward toward the light. Be brave my brothers, I know what you’ve been through, I know the deep dark sorrows of your hearts and how you’ve suffered in addiction. Now, come with me, as we follow Jesus, one so well acquainted with sorrow. You’ve suffered much in addiction, now suffer in a new way by suffering for Jesus. Follow Him, in joy, in struggle, in wins, in losses, in victories in defeats, in trials, afflictions, and battles, follow Jesus Christ, the one who suffered for us, and obey His call. Learn from Him, for He is the great holy redeemer, learn from the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords! Follow Him as we go, on this bitter-sweet journey home, trudging the road of happy destiny, all the way to the gates of the kingdom of heaven on Earth. 



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Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The Twelve Steps and Jesus: Steps 10 through 12


Click here for post on Steps 1 through 5


So we’ve talked about the first 9 steps used in fellowships like AA, NA, GA, and so on. These steps work. And every single person in this room who is in this program needs to work those steps with a sponsor, because we need a psychological change to sustain true recovery. Showing up at church once a week, and hitting a meeting here and there isn’t enough. All the trauma, the hurt, the brokenness inside ourselves, and around ourselves that we’ve done to others is a cancer that eats away at us. And all that trauma causes us to give way to the impulse of self-destruction. We sabotage our own recovery, even when things are going well, we’ll go back out, because we’ve never faced our past, we’ve never cleaned up the wreckage, and gotten right with God. So that’s why we work those steps 1 through 9.

Now let’s talk about steps 10, 11, and 12.

Step 10 says: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

Step 10 is essentially saying, as an addict in recovery it’s my job to continue to practice steps 4 through 9 on a daily basis. I’ve been given a simple spiritual toolkit. So I gotta crack it open and use it. Is something bothering me? Then use the step 4 tool, put it on paper, and then grab the step 5 tool, share what’s going on with someone. Is my crap behavior getting me in trouble again? Then pull out those step 6 and 7 tools, identify the character defect, selfishness, pride, ego, whatever it may be, and ask God to remove it. Did I hurt someone? Did I make someone angry? I go to my toolkit, pull out the step 8 and 9 tools, and I go directly to that person one on one, and I ask for forgiveness, and let them know it won’t happen again. Step 10 is making the steps my daily lifestyle.

Step 11 says: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God's will for us and the power to carry that out.

The problem with a lot of folks in AA is they don’t work this step, they don’t continue to grow in their understanding of who God is. This step is huge. This is how we learn to walk with Jesus our Savior.

The two great communication tools between God and man, prayer and meditation. I try to pray for an hour a day, I don’t always succeed, but pick a time that’s good for you, some are early risers, for me I prefer to pray late at night. And talk to God, praise Him, pray for others, pray for yourself. Then we got meditation. I like to lay down in bed with my Bible, and just invite God to speak to me through the scriptures. And I’ll just page through the word and see what He has for me.

And as we do that daily, we’re looking to improve our conscious contact with God. Conscious contact is like, being aware of God throughout the day, and a lot of times I’ll just talk to God throughout the day, in my mind. And God communicates back, through people, through looking out the window and seeing a beautiful sunny day, and through thoughts that come. But the best part of growing in conscious contact with God is feeling the joy of His presence.

Ultimately the goal with step 11 is to understand what God’s will is for us each day. We need knowledge of His will. Like for me, when I was sober about 18 months, I really wanted to become a Baptist minister. But every time I tried, it seems like the doors were closing in front of me. So I prayed God what is your will for me as far as a career? And boom, God led me into the salvation army. I didn’t choose the Salvation Army, in fact I wanted something more hip and cool, maybe some fancy college apologetics ministry, so I could seem important to the culture and all that, but God said nope, Salvation Army is where I want you. So I followed. We’ve got to pray and check our decisions on God’s will.

And finally, we seek power from God. That’s capital P power. Our problem has always been lack of power over dope and drink. It was our king and god. God gives us power to be free from addiction, if we do our part by following His will.

Lastly, Step 12 says: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

The ultimate goal of the twelve steps is that you would have a spiritual awakening. The goal is that your attitudes, ideas, your mind and your whole approach to life would be transformed.

Now do you see why so many people will go to meetings for a few months, then relapse? They never worked the steps, they never had the psychic change, the spiritual awakening, so they sat there, trying to turn magically into a Ford F150 by sitting in the garage. But it never happened. So they got wasted again.

If you sober up a car thief, what do you get? A sober car thief. If you send a retail thief to college, they’ll come back and steal the company. We need to work the steps, duh. That’s what changes us internally. The meetings help us grow through that process and stick with the victory, but we need the steps.

So if we’ve had the spiritual awakening, we’ve worked the steps, then the goal is to share the message of recovery with others. We work with others. When a newcomer is looking for a sponsor, we go up to them and offer to take them through the steps. We go on 12 step calls with friends in the program to help someone who has relapsed. We visit people in the hospital. We do service work, pick a home group, and help out with that home group faithfully. And we look to practice all the principles, the various twelve steps in all areas of our lives. That’s the whole deal. And I’ve heard many old timers in recovery say: When nothing else helped me, and I was feeling miserable and wanting to drink or drug again, they went and worked with someone else, helped someone else, and that saved them, because they got their sick mind off themselves. So working with others is a big deal.

Those are the twelve steps, and they work. They were put together by drunks and junkies for the purpose of helping themselves, and then it spread across the world, because it works. So work those steps, and know the name of your higher power, which is Jesus Christ.