CR Picnic


Monday, July 30, 2018
Message Notes:

 

“Sort of my confession”

 

Source of inspiration:  John Fisher:  “12 Steps For The Recovering Pharisee

(Like Me)”

 

1.    Read the “12 Steps” from book (sheets)

2.    SAY:  “Few things in life rival the THRILL of passing judgement on another human being.”

a.    I don’t think a day goes by that I am not tempted to pass judgement on others.

b.    In my state of Denial, I tell myself that I am justified to be “righteously indignant” which is just another way of saying :  “Self-righteous”.

c.     If you are like me (even a little bit) you hope that it is not obvious to others  -  may be subtle – only in the mind.

d.    Problem for me is that I KNOW that this “mental condemnation” or “sentencing” is usually the mind set of people who are not willing (or prepared) to have their own actions, thoughts, and motivations brought into the light.

                                     i.     For Example:  I may judge my wife for working too much at home

                                    ii.     My brother for his political views

                                  iii.     My sister for not being financially responsible

                                  iv.     My Niece/Nephew for living alternative lifestyles and marrying people of their same gender

                                    v.     Even my dog for puking on the carpet

                                  vi.     I condemn the paperboy for tossing my paper under my car

                                 vii.     Then I condemn the people in the articles for being liberal, stupid, ignorant, arrogant, or sinful.

                               viii.    I find it especially fulfilling to lump a whole group of people together and dismiss their views as unenlightened - or worse – intentionally threatening to everything I believe is sacred and true.

e.    It’s funny that the world “generally” seems unfazed with my assessment of it –  AS LONG AS: I remain distant from a personal knowledge of any individuals in the world.

                                     i.     Most of you know that I struggle with ANGER.  Most mornings, Behind the wheel of my car is where I find so many inept drivers who all should have failed their driving tests.  “Idiots !!”

 

 

1.    But, Miraculously, I arrive at McDonalds in one piece, and find myself in line behind a person who can’t read, and who lacks any ability to make decisions, knowingly making me late for staff meeting.

2.    I get behind the wheel and back on the highway.  Waiting (patiently) in a long line to make a left turn there races up a woman in a hurry to cut into the line at the very beginning of the line.  I smile and let her in - all the while thinking:  “What arrogance to pass the 20 cars waiting in line to turn, and thinking that SHE should be granted access at the head of the line so her time is not wasted.  Doesn’t she know that my time is just as precious as hers?”

                                    ii.     Have you ever noticed how everything that is wrong with the world is always someone else’s fault?  Well, if we are honest about it, the truth is:   We like it that way.

1.    We take great pleasure in criticizing the smallest faults in others, while overlooking large chunks of our own self-contradictions – and we do this without blinking an eye.

a.    Enter the Pharisee – like me

                                                                                           i.     Forever the self-righteous,  Never the guilty.

b.    This is why a Recovery Model like CR is so appropriate for Pharisees who do not want to be Pharisees anymore.

 

2.    “Recovering Pharisees”  (like me) need to have people around them who will tell them the truth – holding up mirrors.

a.    This is most valuable part of the Celebrate Recovery group model – speaking the truth in love.

b.    Just showing up each week forces you to encounter a different view of yourself – an honest view.

c.     At CR  - you are putting yourself among people whom you might have judged in the past – or at least thought as lower than yourself.  This is why “just showing up” each week is so hard.

                                                                                           i.     You walk into a room of people who all have a problem, and you immediately say to yourself:  “I don’t belong here.  I’m really not this bad.” “These are the people who have hit bottom and have nowhere else to go.  Me … I’m different.   I’m only checking this out.  I won’t need to be here that long.”

 

 

                                                                                          ii.     Most start out this way. -  Typically because they have never before had a good look at themselves.  Or – to put it another way:  because they have never really taken a good / honest “INVENTORY” of themselves.  (sound familiar?)

                                                                                        iii.     We NEED people around us who are going to tell us the truth.  ONLY THEN can we establish the kind of relationships where we “Give others the benefit of the doubt.”   Because more often than not when all is said and done we are glad we have done just that.  When we put ourselves in other people’s shoes we are much more likely to show empathy.

                                                                                        iv.     POINT here is that Empathy is a great antidote for our tendency to judge others.   When we judge others we are implying that we are perfect.  And perfect people are lonely people.  No one wants to be around you if you are perfect.  (joke:  Take it from me – I know.)

                                                                                          v.     Having empathy for people you don’t like is a huge step for the Pharisee.  BUT, if you can do it, you are on the road to recovery.

 

 

                                  iii.     Let’s look back at the first time you walked into our Monday night CR meeting.

1.    Maybe you were thinking:  “This is a big mistake.” “What was I thinking?”  “ This is too awkward.”  “Look at all these losers.”

2.    But, if you hang in there, you soon discover that this group is made up of people from all walks of life.   There are I.T. professionals, moms, bankers, carpenters, landscapers, factory workers, secretaries, plumbers, doctors, and laborers - the wealthy & the unemployed – and yes even ministers.

a.    As you listen to them and talk with them you soon discover similarities between their lives and your own. 

b.    I am not an alcoholic, but I do struggle with anger and I’m telling you there are some frightening parallels in our struggles. 

                                                                                           i.     My drive to NOT be “one of those people” is what makes me act like a PHARISEE. 

                                                                                          ii.     As a Pharisee, there is no doubt that the need to judge others is at the level of an addiction. 

                                                                                        iii.     We (I) judge without thinking sometimes – and it’s a habit that I need to have God “chisel” out of me.

                                                                                        iv.     Being in a room full of people, who like me,  want to kick this self-righteous habit, is my best chance to shed my Pharisee Robes and choking tunic.

                                                                                          v.     You may find yourself (like I did) astonished that you suddenly start to like – even love these people.   You will begin to see yourself (and them) in the LIGHT OF TRUTH.  – as God sees them.

1.    You begin to accept them

2.    You admit your own faults (that they may have helped you see.)

3.    And eventually, there comes a time when you will fiercely defend these people.  You may even be willing to die for them – the very same ones you judged when you stepped foot into your first CR meeting here at CLA.

 

 

So, why am I sharing all this? 

Because I want you all to find the Grace I’ve found.   My hope and prayer is that each and every one of you will live your life without the masks we so willingly put on.   Get rid of the mask – Stop being a Pharisee.  And celebrate the wonderful, honest world of Recovery.

 

Thank you for letting me share.

 

Prayer

 

Dismiss to open share groups:  (Lori w/newcomers + family & friends)

 

You are dismissed when done or you can just hang out here if you want.

ADMIT C.R. lesson #13

 

·      OK,  tonight’s lesson based on Principle 4 & Step 5:

1.    Principle 4:  “Openly examine and confess my faults to myself, to God, and to someone I trust.”

2.    Step 5:  “Admit to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of my wrongs.”

§  Which of course is taken from James 5:16:  “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”

·      You remember Last Week we started this idea with the lesson on “CONFESSION” .  Confession & Admission go hand in hand.  Tonight we will expand on what we started in our previous lesson.

·      ASK:   Can anyone tell me what Romans 6:23 says ???   (Answer:  “Wages of sin is death – but gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”)

1.    ASK:  What does that mean to you?

§  Answer:   If you work hard for sin your whole life, then your reward will surely be DEATH.  But life God’s way is REAL LIFE, and pension is eternal life BUT only through JC.

2.    OK, let’s play w/this “wages” metaphor a bit:

§  So – there is a “wage” or “earning” for SIN in our lives.

·      Well it’s also NOT JUST a cut & dried where (X) sin = (Y) wage.   NO, there is almost always a Tax on your investment as well as a change in the rate.  

o   You see- the devil is like a “loan shark”   He keeps raising the stakes.  Until you are trapped beyond your ability to ever repay.

·      BY THE WAY:  (aside)  If the wages of sin is death, shouldn’t you quit before payday?

·      Let’s get serious here:    POINT of Romans 6:23 here  (in relation to our lesson on Admitting our sins to one another)  is this:   There is a consequence for our Sins  AND  we keep those “sins” a secret whenever possible.

1.    To use the “wage metaphor”  we keep the “sin earnings” UNREPORTED.   And the consequences eventually catch up with us.

2.    The more secrets we keep – the more the Loan Shark has over our heads.

 

·      So   “Why  Do  I  Have  To  ADMIT  My  Wrongs to another??”

1.    Because:  Keeping those “wrongs” or sins secret all our lives TAKES A TOLL on us.

§  The Toll =  Loss of self-respect / energy / bondage to old codependent habits.

§  ADMITTING those secrets – out loud  -  strips them of the power they have over us.  Just speaking them will dilute their power.

2.    STILL – we are afraid to reveal our secrets to another person – even someone we trust.   ASK:   WHY?

§  (let them brainstorm on this)

§  Answer:  Betrayal  /  harm – used against us / rejected / ostracized / avoided / hated / never trusted again / etc.

·      OK,  Tonight I want you to hear TRUTH.    I want you to know what you really have to lose by admitting your wrongs:   (take out your bulletins)

1.    First, We lose our sense of isolation.  

§  Remember the story about the little girl in the well?    When you admit your wrongs to another person you invite someone down in that well – right alongside of you.   

§  The result is that feeling of isolation begins to vanish

2.    Second,  We will begin to lose our unwillingness to forgive.  

§  WOW, that’s a mouthful.   When people accept and forgive us, we start to see that we can forgive others.   (The Lord’s Prayer)

3.    Third,  We will lose our inflated, false pride. 

§  AS we see and accept who we are, we begin to gain true humility, which involves seeing ourselves as we really are and seeing God as He really is.

4.    Fourth & Final,  We will lose our sense of Denial. 

§  It’s easy to see that being TRUTHFUL with another person will tear away at our denial.

§  Results in us feeling clean and honest.

 

·      OK, those were the 4 “things you have to “LOSE” when you admit your wrongs to another person.     NOW,  lets look at 3 “Things you have to GAIN”.

 

 

1.    We gain the HEALING that the Bible promises.  

a.    Look at James 5:16 again:  “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be HEALED.”

b.    Obvious key word = “Healed”

c.     NOTICE it does NOT say:  “Confess your sins to one another and you will be “forgiven”.

                                                       i.     No, God already Forgave you when you confessed your sins to HIM. 

                                                      ii.     HE says:  You will begin the “Healing Process” when you confess your sins to another.  WOW!!   Powerful promise!

2.    OK, the 2nd thing we “gain” is FREEDOM.

a.    Our secrets have kept us in CHAINS  -  bound  -  frozen, unable to move forward in any of our relationships – with God OR others.

b.    Admitting our sins “Snaps” those chains so God can get about His business of Healing

                                                       i.     Psalm 107:13-14   “They cried to the Lord in their troubles, and he rescued them!  He led them from the darkness and the shadow of death and “SNAPPED” their chains. “

c.     Word of Caution (However)   Unconfessed Sin will Fester.  In Psalm 32:3-4  David tells us what happened to him when he tried to hide his sins:  “When I did not confess my sins, I was worn out from crying all day long…My strength was completely drained.”  

                                                       i.     Openness is to wholeness (or being healthy)  AS  Secrets are to sickness.

                                                      ii.     Remember that the only sin God can NOT forgive is the one you don’t confess.

3.    Now – the 3rd thing we gain from admitting your wrongs to another is:  You gain SUPPORT.

a.    Think about it – when someone else sees your inventory they are more likely to support you

                                                       i.     They can keep you focused  & provide feedback.

                                                      ii.     When denial creeps in and you do the unhealthy “self talk”,  that’s when you need someone whom you have confided in to challenge you with the TRUTH

b.    But most of all – the value of just having someone listen to you and hear what you have to say is priceless. 

ALRIGHT NOW:    HOW DO YOU CHOOSE SOMEONE TO TELL YOUR SECRETS TO???

·      Unlike little Jessica in the well – you get to CHOOSE the person who comes down in your well with you.

·      So choose well. 

o   Don’t want someone to say:  “ You did WHAT ?”    or  “You shouldn’t have done that you know…”

o   You are not looking for a Judge or a Jury

§  We already talked about the Verdict:  Romans 3:23 says “all have sinned and you have been found “not guilty” by virtue of association with JC.   In  1st John 1:9  “If we confess our sins , he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us…”

·      OK, so what you need is a good “Listener”

o   Better if they are a growing Christian

o   Better if they are familiar with 12 steps or 8 principles.  (If not – make them familiar)

·      Same sex – that you trust and respect

·      Can be your Sponsor OR Accountability Partner  (You do have one don’t you?) 

o   If they are a person who has had similar experiences it can result in healthy  exchange.

·      Set an appointment with the person – without interruptions

o   No phones, no kids,

o   Give it plenty of time. 

ACTUAL GUIDELINES FOR YOUR MEETING (where you will begin to ADMIT):

1.    Start w/Prayer

a.    Pray for courage / humility / honesty (complete honesty) /

2.    Read the scripture verses (provided  in Bulletin insert)

3.    Keep your sharing balanced between  -  weaknesses  & Strengths!

4.    End in Prayer.  Thank God for the tools He has given you  AND for the complete FORGIVENESS found in Christ.

 

 

ASK:  Aren’t you tired?  Don’t you want to let go?    Listen to this video and think about letting go.

 

VIDEO:   Skit Guys:  “Completely” by Among The Thirsty  (on you tube also)  3.5 minutes

1.    PRAY:   Dismiss to groups:  Newcomers to room with:__________________

SPIRITUAL INVENTORY (PART 2)

1.    Ok,  tonight, continue with the Spiritual Inventory that _______________ started last week.

a.    Last week we took a look INWARD focusing on:

                                     i.     Your Relationships with others

                                    ii.     Your Priorities in Life

                                  iii.     Your Attitude in ALL things,

                                  iv.     Finally, Your Integrity.

b.    Now,  ALL 4 of these deal with your Character.  I asked you some hard questions last week.

                                     i.     We talked about how our past actions in each of these areas had a negative (or a positive) effect on not only our lives, but the lives of those around us.

1.    Some of you worked very hard on these in your groups – this is good.

c.     Now, TONIGHT we will look at 4 MORE Character issues in your life

                                     i.     We are going to finish the Spiritual Inventory tonight !

                                    ii.     We will finalize the list of shortcomings / sins that have prevented God from working effectively in our lives.

1.    Just evaluating each area will help us complete our inventories.

2.    OK,  Let’s get started

3.    Last week’s and this week’s lessons are based  on Principle #4 and Step #4:  which read:

a.    Principle #4:  Openly examine and confess my faults to myself, to God, and to someone I trust.

b.    Step #4:  Make a searching and fearless moral (HONEST) inventory of yourself.

                                     i.     Which of course is based on Lamentations 3:40:  “Let us examine our ways and test them,  and let us return to the Lord.”

                                    ii.     In addition to Lamentations here, we are also going to take Psalm 139:23-24 to heart:

1.    “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test my thoughts.  Point out anything you find in me that makes you sad, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.”

HANDOUT HERE:  (Small + Larger “Helpful Questions” to consider.)

 

 

4.    Let’s start with  YOUR  MIND #1

a.    It’s been said:  “The most difficult thing to open is a closed mind.”

b.    God’s Word has something to say on the subject:

                                     i.     In Romans 12:2 says:  “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

                                    ii.     This scripture forces some significant questions to the surface:

                                  iii.     First Question:   HOW  HAVE  YOU  GUARDED  YOUR  MIND  IN  THE  PAST ???

1.    If you are like most people who struggle with recovery, the way you have guarded your mind is by denying the truth of the pain.

2.    The Denial may have protected you from the pain in the short run,  HOWEVER, in the long run, your denial only kept you from living and dealing with the reality of your HHH>

                                  iv.     Second Question:  HAVE YOU FILLED YOUR MIND WITH HURTFUL AND UNHEALTHY MOVIES, INTERNET SITES, TELEVISION PROGRAMS, MAGAZINES, OR BOOKS ????’        

1.    Your ears & eyes are windows to your soul.  Garbage in – Garbage out.

a.    John Baker says:  “Straight living does not come from crooked thinking.”

                                                                                           i.     Proverbs 15:14  “A wise person is hungry for truth, while a fool feeds on trash.”

                                    v.     Third Question:  HAVE YOU FAILED TO CONCENTRATE ON THE POSITIVE TRUTHS OF THE BIBLE ???

1.    Again, John Baker said:  “I believe that three of the greatest sins today are:  Indifference to; neglect of; and disrespect for the Word of God.”

2.    ASK:  Are you setting aside a daily time with the Word of God?    Remember that the Bible is your “owner’s manual” for life.

 

5.    Alright Now, We’ve looked at how we’ve treated our MINDS,  Now, going to look at how we’ve treated our BODIES. #2

a.    ASK:  Did you know that with proper care the human body will last a lifetime?  Think about it ! 

b.    ASK:  From Scripture, What do we know about our Bodies? 

                                     i.     Looking for:   “Temple Of The Holy Spirit”

c.     OK, Then – ASK:   Does scripture tell us about WHO owns our bodies? 

                                     i.     I Corinthians 6: 19-20 spells it out for us:

1.    “Haven’t you  yet learned that your body is the home of the Holy Spirit that God gave you, and that He lives within you?  Your own body does not belong to you.  For God has bought you with a great price.  So use every part of your body to give glory back to God, because He Owns It.!” – EVERY PART.  REALLY?  EVERY PART????

 

d.    Now, this begs a few uncomfortable questions tonight:

                                     i.     First:   IN WHAT WAYS HAVE YOU MISTREATED YOUR BODY?

1.    Have you abused alcohol?  Drugs?  Excessive OR Insufficient  Food?   Unhealthy Sexual Habits?

2.    Have you deprived yourself of sleep?  OR have you intentionally caused physical pain to yourself, Or so emotionally beaten yourself up that it began to impact you physically?   OR have you ever (in a fit of rage), placed yourself at risk or harm from speeding? OR driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.??

3.    These are ALL ways of mistreating our bodies.

4.    John Baker says that in the depth of his alcoholism he was 60 lbs. overweight.  He almost died.  He prayed and asked God to help him get his strength back.

a.    God answered his prayer and did bless him.  Now it’s time for moderation in his diet.

5.    It is through our bodies – our flesh – that Satan does his best (or worst) work.  BUT THANK GOD THAT THE BELIEVER’S BODY IS THE Temple of the Holy Spirit.

6.    God values you so much that he chose to place His Spirit within you.

7.    You need to have as much respect for yourself as your Creator does for you.

 

                                   ii.     Second:  WHAT ACTIVITIES OR HABITS CAUSED HARM TO YOUR PHYSICAL HEALTH?

1.    No doubt you’ve heard it said:  “People have the right to do whatever they want to do with their own bodies.”

a.    Some see this as a sort of “freedom”,  however, they become slaves to their own desires, which ultimately causes them great harm.

 

6.    OK,   We’ve looked at our Minds, Our Bodies,  Now we will look at how we’ve treated our FAMILIES. #3

a.    Israel’s leader Joshua is often quoted around Men’s groups for the bold statement he made in the book of Joshua in Joshua 24:15:

                                     i.     Regarding his household he said:  “If you are unwilling to obey the Lord, then decide today whom you will obey… But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”

1.    Foundational scripture behind the Promise Keepers Men’s movement.
 

b.    Again, there are some pivotal questions raised for us here:

1.    HAVE YOU MISTREATED ANYONE IN YOUR FAMILY?   HOW?

a.    Emotional abuse isn’t always in the form of Rage, yelling or screaming

b.    Sometimes it can be passive/aggressive

                                                                                           i.     Like the “silent treatment”

                                                                                          ii.     Tearing down someone’s self esteem

                                                                                        iii.     Or, Neglecting someone’s emotional needs

c.     God designed our Families to be our safety from Life’s storms

d.    As much as is humanly possible – you need to provide a safe haven for your family.  If that  isn’t possible, let CR be your “Forever Family”.

2.    AGAINST WHOM IN YOUR FAMILY DO YOU HAVE A RESENTMENT?

a.    This can be a difficult thing to admit.

b.    It’s easier to admit resentment toward an acquaintance or a stranger THAN TO A FAMILY MEMBER.

c.     Denial then comes in like a thick fog.  But you need to break through that fog in order to successfully complete your inventory.

3.    TO WHOM DO YOU OWE AMENDS ?

a.    Don’t worry – you are only going to identify them for today.  Later in principle #6 we will begin to work on actually making Amends.

b.    All we are looking for here is listing of those relationships where you have had a part in damaging the relationship.

 

4.    WHAT IS THE FAMILY SECRET THAT YOU HAVE BEEN DENYING ?

a.    Do you have a “pink elephant” in the middle of your family’s living room that  no one ever talks about?  Well, that’s that family secret.

b.    Jeremiah 6:14 is awesome here.  From Today’s Living Bible translation:  “You can’t heal a wound by saying it’s not there.”

 

7.    We’ve looked at Minds, Bodies, Families,   Now let’s look at how we treat our CHURCH:

a.    In Hebrews 10:25 the table is set for us:  “Let us not neglect our church meetings, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near…”

                                     i.     Here are a few more questions to help you with your inventories here:

1.    HAVE YOU BEEN FAITHFUL TO YOUR CHURCH IN THE PAST ??

a.    Church is sort of like a bank or a a Stock you invest in:  The more you put into it, the more interest you gain in it.  Not just $ -  but “interest” in the sense of caring about it.

2.    HAVE YOU BEEN CRITICAL INSTEAD OF ACTIVE IN YOUR CHURCH ??

a.    Basic principle:  If you don’t like something in your church, then get involved in it so you can help change it.   HOWEVER:  You should always keep your mouth shut for a while until you gain a much better understanding of it.

b.    AXIOM to live by:  “Turn your grumbling into SERVICE.”

3.    HAVE YOU DISCOURAGED YOUR FAMILY’S SUPPORT OF THEIR CHURCH IN ANY WAY ??

a.    Again – not just financially, but every other way

b.    Even if you aren’t ready to be involved in your church, encourage your family to do so.

c.     They need and probably want the support of the church.

 

(ASIDE)    NEXT SHEETS:  Some Helpful Questions as you wrap up your Spiritual Inventory.

 

 

 

OK,  We’ve made it through the 8 different areas to help you begin and complete your inventory.

Once again, listen to Isaiah 1:18   “No matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can take it out and make you as clean as freshly fallen snow.”  Sayeth the Lord !!!

A few final reminders:

1.    Keep your inventory BALANCED – listing your strengths as well as your weaknesses

2.    Talk this through with your SPONSOR and/or Accountability Partner.   Remember that the road to recovery is NOT to be made alone.

 

SEGUE  into  PRAYER

Dismiss to Open Share Groups with:  ________________________

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some helpful Questions as you wrap up your Spiritual Inventory:

 

YOUR  MIND:

·      Since accepting Christ as your Higher Power, how has God transformed your mind (Romans 12:2)  What worldly standards have you given up?


 

·      How have you used Denial to attempt to guard your mind?

 

·      Have you filled (or are you now filling ) your mind with hurtful and unhealthy movies, television programs, internet sites, magazines, or books?

 

·      How have you failed to concentrate on the positive truths of the Bible?  (Be Specific)

 

YOUR  BODY:

·      What past activities or habits caused harm to your physical health?

 

·      In what ways have you mistreated your body?

 

·      If you have abused alcohol, drugs, foods, or sex, how did they negatively affect your body?

 

·      What have you done to restore God’s Temple ?

 

 

 

YOUR FAMILY:

·      Have you mistreated anyone in your family verbally, emotionally, or physically?

 

·      Who in your family do you hold a resentment against?  Why?

 

·      Can you think of anyone to whom you owe amends ?  Why?  (Don’t worry about actually making amends now.  That’s later in principle #6)

 

·      What is the “family secret” that you have kept denying ?

 

·      How have relationships improved since you have been in Recovery?  (be specific)

 

YOUR CHURCH:

·      How would you rate your past participation in your church:

o   Very involved

o   Semi-active member

o   Sideline member

o   Attended but was not a member

o   Attended inconsistently

o   Only went on Holidays

o   Never attended
 

·      Prior to working on your recovery, what was your main reason for going to church?

 

·      Have you ever tried to discourage any family members from any church involvement?  How?  Why?

 

·      How has your commitment to your church increased since starting your recovery?   (Give examples)

Spiritual Inventory (Part 1)

Lesson # 10
June 25th, 2018

Based on Principle 4:  Openly examine and confess my faults to myself, to God, and to someone I trust.  “Happy are the pure in heart.”  Matthew 5:8

Step 4:  We made a searching and fearless honest inventory of ourselves.   “Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord.”  Lamentations 3:40

INTRODUCTION:

Tonight we begin the first of two lessons in which we will actually start to write out our Spiritual Inventory using the “Spiritual Evaluation” that founders of Celebrate Recovery developed for this step.

Principle 4 begins the process of coming clean, where you  “openly examine and confess your faults to yourself, to God, and to another person you trust.”

Most of us don’t like to look within ourselves – to take note of the things that are bad or need work.  It’s like looking in a mirror – don’t like what looks back sometimes.   BUT  remember what we talked about last time in Lesson 9:  You need to keep your evaluation, your “inventory”, balanced.   Needs to include both the good and the bad within you.   

OK, let’s look at what a Spiritual Inventory, (or Evaluation) is all about :

God’s Word tells us,  “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test my thoughts.  Point out anything you find in me that makes you sad, and lead me along the path of everlasting life…” 
 
Psalm 139: 23-24  tlb.

ASK:  Can you define:  “Character” ?     (brainstorm here)

            Did you know that everyone has 3 different “characters” ?

1.    The character we Exhibit (show on the outside)

2.    The character we Think We Have.

3.    The character we Truly Have.

 

No doubt each one of our “Characters” has good qualities and bad qualities. 

·      Tonight we are going to look at some of the bad, some of our character shortcomings and sins that can block us from receiving all the joy that God has intended.   (We will get to the good side too – patience )

·      So, tonight we are also going to work on 4 areas of our character;   and next week we will work on 4 more.    The POINT of this lesson is to help you get started on your actual inventory as you search your heart and are completely honest as you write them out. !!

OK, in your handout:

  Part 1 for tonight:  OUR RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHERS:    

            In Matthew 6: 12-14  Jesus tells us to pray:   “Forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us.  Don’t bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the Evil One.”    Sound familiar? 

            Ask yourself the following questions regarding your relationships with others:   (ACTUALLY START FILLING OUT YOUR SHEETS – YOU CAN FINE TUNE IT LATER, BUT START PUTTING THE TRUTH DOWN ON PAPER.)

NOTE:  The following people that you name here came from your worksheets in column 1.

1.    Who has hurt you?

a.    Go as far back as necessary.  Does not need to be directly related to your HHH.

2.    Against whom have you been “holding a grudge?”

a.    It doesn’t take a doctor to tell you that it is better to remove a grudge than to nurse it.   No matter how long you nurse a grudge, it won’t get better.  “Grudges are for those who insist they are owed something….”  Chris Jami.     Writing the grudge down on your inventory is the first step in getting rid of it.

3.    Against whom are you still seeking revenge?

a.    Did you know that seeking revenge is like biting a dog just because the dog bit you?  It really doesn’t help you or the dog.   “The best revenge is to be unlike him who performed the injury.” Marcus Aurelius;          
“Not forgiving is like drinking Rat Poison then waiting for the Rat to die.”

4.    Are you Jealous of someone?

a.    In Song of Songs 8:6 ,  jealousy is said to be:  “as unyielding as the grave.   It burns like blazing fire!”

5.    Have you tried to justify your bad attitude by saying it is “their fault” – “someone else’s fault”?

a.    When you search for someone to blame, it is better for you to look in the mirror rather than through binoculars.   Hosea 4:4 tells us:  “Don’t point your finger at someone else and try to pass the blame.”   When you point the finger at someone else there is always 3 more pointing back at you.

NOTE:  The following people that you name here came from your worksheets in column 5.

6.    Whom have YOU hurt?

a.    How did you hurt them?

b.    Indicate whether it was intentional or not intentional.  

                                              i.     It is amazing that the TONGUE being a wet place slippeth often !      It is only about 4 inches long yet it can destroy a man 6 feet tall.

                                             ii.     That’s why James 1:26 tells us:  “…keep a tight rein on our tongues.”

END PART   1

 

OK,  Part 2: Let’s look at what’s important to YOU:   YOUR  PRIORITIES  IN YOUR  LIFE:

            We do what is important to us. 
                        Others see our “priorities” by our actions, not our words. 

“Your walk talks and your talk talks, but your walk talks louder than your talk talks.”   

   Personally, I would rather see a sermon than hear one any day.

            So,  What ARE the priorities in your life?

                        Matthew 6:33 tells us what will happen if we make God our #1 priority:  “He will give back to you if you give him first place in your life and live as he wants you to.”
 

1.    OK, #1 here:  After making the decision to turn your life and your will over to God, in what areas of your life are you still not putting God first?

a.    What closet are you not letting him enter and clean out?

b.    What “thing” in your life do you procrastinate to deal with that is just bugging the heck out of you? 

                                              i.     We all have them – those areas that we know are wrong for us OR unhealthy in some way.

2.    What in your past is interfering with you doing God’s Will today?

a.    For example:  Is your ambition driven by serving God or is it driven by envy?  Greed ?,  Lust for affirmation or recognition?

b.    For Example:  Are your PLEASURES found in “the world”?

                                              i.     Proverbs 21:17 warns us:  “He who loves pleasure will become poor.”

                                             ii.     While Psalm 16:11 promises what happens when our pleasure is found “in The Lord” :
“You will teach me how to live a holy life.  Being with you will fill me with joy, at your right hand I will find pleasure forever.”

3.    What have been your priorities in your job?; Your Friendships?; Your Personal Goals?

a.    Need to ask yourself:  Are my priorities in any of these areas self-centered OR self-serving?

                                              i.     “When we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place OR drop out of our lives altogether.  Our love of the Lord will govern the claims for our affections, the demands for our time, the interests we pursue, and the order of our Priorities.”  (Ezra Benson)

                                             ii.     “We don’t drift in good directions.  We discipline and prioritize ourselves there.”   (Andy Stanley)

4.    Who was affected by the Priorities you set?  

a.    Did you lose any friends when you made your HHH a priority?  (Not working on it, but the HHH itself)

b.    Did your relationships with any family members suffer as a result of feeding your HHH and making it the #1 thing in your life?

5.    NOW,   What was GOOD about your priorities?

a.    There had to be some good here.   Write about it.

 

Now, Part 3:   This next area of your Spiritual Inventory is where you examine your attitudes.

YOUR  ATTITUDE:

            Ephesians 4:31 starts us off here:  “Get rid of all bitterness, (misplaced) passion, and anger.  No more shouting or insults.  No more hateful feelings of any sort.”

1.    Do you always try to have an “attitude of gratitude”  OR  do you find yourself always complaining about your circumstances?

a.    Scripture encourages us to be “thankful” every time we come to prayer, but this should (and could) spill over into every area of our lives. 

b.    Many people over the years have crossed my path as a Pastor who have been mostly negative and critical in their spirits.  They seem to end up with more problems and physical issues and generally have few friends.   Most people just don’t like being around them.    (This goes for people who also have no depth to their souls, but we will hold that for now.  )

                                              i.     Cloud hanging over their heads

                                             ii.     EGR’s

2.    Do you have a CRITICAL  SPIRIT?

a.    Remember the stages of Relapse? 

                                              i.     Starts with Critical Spirit – leads to Isolation – leads to Relapse

b.    If you find yourself changing from an optimist to developing a critical spirit then something else is going on in your life. 

                                              i.     Fear is overcoming you.

                                             ii.     Road ahead looks too difficult

1.    “Losers Limp”   HS Track Coach

3.    In what areas of your life are you Ungrateful?

a.    We really can’t (and shouldn’t) be grateful for the bad things in our lives,  but we can at least be thankful for the things we have escaped – right? 

                                              i.     God always seems to provide a way out of destructive options in our lives.

1.    Sometimes we “dodge the bullet” fired at us, but other times we CHOOSE to take the right path.

a.    I Corinthians 15:57 says it best:  “But thanks be to God!  He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

4.    Have you gotten angry, resulting in you blowing up at people?

a.    Could do a whole lesson on anger, but remember this one principle:  “Blowing up at people OR venting our anger is almost always an expression of our own insecurities about something in life.”

                                              i.     May or may not be related to issue we are blowing up about.

                                             ii.     Also more related to our FEARS and not the alleged “offense”.

                                           iii.     If you are angry it means:  “You have unfinished business with God.”

5.    Have you been SARCASTIC?

a.    Did you know that sarcasm can be a form of “Verbal Abuse”?

b.    Root words that form word: “sarcasm” are TORN  FLESH.

6.    What in your past is STILL causing you Fear or Anxiety?

a.    Remember that your fear imprisons you;  your faith liberates you. 

b.    Fear paralyzes; faith empowers!

c.     Fear disheartens;  faith encourages!

d.    Fear sickens;  faith heals!

e.    FAITH in Jesus Christ will allow you to face your past fears, and with faith you can be free of fear’s chains. 

                                              i.     I John 4:18 says:  “There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.  The one who fears is NOT made perfect in love.”

Now then,  the LAST area we are going to talk about tonight is your INTEGRITY:

YOUR  INTEGRITY:

1.    In what past dealings (work, private, etc.) were you dishonest?

a.    Do you know what I mean here?  Anyone confused by the question?

b.    “An honest person alters his ideas to fit the truth.  While a dishonest person alters the truth to fit his ideas.”

c.     Did you cheat at school, games?

d.    Did you falsify records to the IRS?

e.    Remember that a partial truth is as much a lie as telling a falsehood.

                                              i.     Truth, whole truth, nothing but the truth.

2.    Have you stolen things?    (ASIDE:  I told you that your inventory was not going to be easy.)

a.    May be something physical – an item, money, prescription drugs, etc.

b.    May be credit for something you didn’t do. 

                                              i.     Can be major  as in a work related thing  OR minor like taking credit for a kindness you didn’t perform.

3.    Have you exaggerated yourself to make  yourself look better?

a.    OK, this is a tough one – because a LOT of people exaggerate. 

b.    Did you know there are NO degrees of “honest”?   Either you are or you are NOT!!!

c.     ASK:  Why do you think people “exaggerate”?

                                              i.     To look better, to appear more clever, to put themselves in better light with others.

                                             ii.     BUT the underlying MOTIVE is always  INSECURITY!!!!

4.    Have you pretended to live one way in front of your Christian friends and another way at home or at work?

a.    Are you a “Sunday Christian”  OR a “Seven-day – full time follower of Jesus Christ?”

b.    Do you try to practice the 8 Principles of CR all week or just on Mondays?  

c.     Do you “Work” the 12 steps?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WRAP-UP:

·      Well, that’s enough work for one week – whew! 

o   Next week we will dig in to Part II of our Spiritual Inventory.

§  We will explore our “Old Way” of thinking;

§  We will look at how we have treated (or mistreated) God’s temple – our bodies;

§  How we did nor did NOT walk by faith in the past;

§  And, our important past relationships with our family & the Church.

·      As you work on your Spiritual Inventories, remember these two things:

o   First, in Isaiah 1:18 God says:  “No matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can take it out and make you as clean as freshly fallen snow.”

o   Second, - and we can’t say this enough – KEEP YOUR INVENTORY BALANCED ! 

§  List the positive new relationships that you have,

§  List the areas of your life that you have been able to turn over to God;

§  How your attitude has improved since you started recovery;

§  And the ways you have been able to step out of denial into God’s truth.

PRAY:  SEND TO GROUPS: 

Lesson #8: MORAL

1.     We have now moved on to Principle #4 & Step #4:

a.    Principle 4:  “I openly examine an d confess my faults to myself, to God, and to someone I trust.”

b.   Step 4:  “I make a searching and fearless moral (Honest) inventory of myself.”

 

2.     To start our lesson today I’m going to read an excerpt from “The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn.”   

a.     How many of you had to read The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn”  by Mark Twain when you were in grade school ?

b.     Well, in this story, we find Huck Finn has befriended a black slave named “Jim”.    Now, this story was written about a shameful time in our Nation’s past when slavery was inflicted upon an innocent race. 

c.     We pick up the story in chapter 31 where we find Huck Finn in a MORAL dilemma for wanting to help a slave to escape a town and find freedom from an entire town of people who saw Jim (a black man) as less than human and not worthy of respect or value apart from his purchase price as if he were a piece of property to own…

d.     The incredible irony of this story is how Huck Finn struggled with the dilemma of  telling a lie while this huge issue of slavery was all around him.   Did the horror of slavery JUSTIFY a lie?

e.     The BIG QUESTION here :  What do you think Mark Twain was saying about Huck Finn’s HEART? 
 

“…And then think of me!  It would get all around, that Huck Finn helped a Black Man to get his freedom;  and if I was to ever see anybody from that town again, I’d be ready to get down and lick his boots for shame.    That’s just the way:  a person does a low-down thing, and then he don’t want to take no consequences of it.   He thinks as long as he can hide it, it ain’t no disgrace.  That was my problem exactly.  The more I studied about this, the more my conscience went to grinding me up, and the more wicked and low-down and ornery I got to feeling.  And at last, when it hit me all of a sudden that here was the plain hand of Providence slapping me in the face and letting me know my wickedness was being watched all the time from up there in heaven, whilst I was stealing a poor old woman’s slave.  She hadn’t done me no harm, and now she was showing me there’s ONE that’s always on the lookout, and HE ain’t agoing to allow no such miserable doings to go only just so fur and no further.   I was so scared I most dropped in my tracks.  

 

Well, I tried the best I could to kinder soften it up somehow for myself, by saying I was brung up wicked, and so I warn’t so much to blame;  but something inside of me kept saying:  People who act as I’d been acting – stealin this slave I mean – go to everlastin fire.   

 

It made me shiver.  And I about made up my mind to pray; and see if I couldn’t try to quit being the kind of a boy I was, and be better.  So I kneeled down.  But the words wouldn’t come.  Why wouldn’t they?  It warn’t no use to try and hide it from God.  Nor from me, neither.  I knowed very well why they wouldn’t come – It was because my heart warn’t right; it was because I warn’t square; it was because I was laying double.  I was letting on to give up sin, but away inside of me I was holding on to the biggest sin of all.  I was trying to make my mouth say I would do the right thing and the clean thing – and go and make it right;  but deep down in me I knowed it was a lie – and God  knowed it too.  YOU CAN’T PRAY A LIE. – I found that out right then. 

 

So I was full of trouble, full as I could be; and didn’t know what to do.  At last I had an idea; and I says:  “I’ll go and write the letter and THEN see if I can pray.   Why, it was astonishing, the way I felt as light as a feather, right straight off, and my troubles all gone.  So I got a piece of  paper and a pencil, all glad and excited I was, and set down and wrote my confession..”

 

1.     When we look at Step 4 again:  “I make a searching and fearless MORAL (Honest)    inventory of myself”   We can see how God  put this in motion long before  CR existed.

2.     In Mathew 5:8 we read:  “Happy Are The Pure In Heart.”

a.     ASK:   What do you think it means:   “To Be PURE IN HEART”?

b.     ASK:   DO YOU FEEL PURE IN HEART ?

3.     Indeed:  We could have a different title for tonight’s lesson:   “Matters Of The Heart” might be a good suggestion

 

4.     SO, Let’s let God’s WORD answer this question of : What it means to be “Pure Of Heart”

a.     GO TO BIBLE HERE:   Proverbs 4: 20-27

b.     Then READ pages 906-907 (Yellow highlights only)

 

WOW:   It seems clear that God cares deeply about the state of our hearts.    Which brings back the question from a moment ago:  “Do You Feel Pure In Heart ?”  

1.     This is a question that demands an answer.   

a.     ACTION:   Take out a pencil/pen and write this now:  “DO  I  FEEL  PURE  IN  MY  HEART ?????”

2.     Tonight we are going to dig deep into our process of recovery.  This may sting a little as you struggle with the answer to this question  -  but I guarantee it will be worth it as we seek to maximize growth and minimize eventual pain. 

3.     Let’s begin by admitting and understanding that:  “We ALL have pain.

a.     We know well the pain of our past (Some of you are still wallowing in it.)

b.     The only way to get RID of the pain of our past is to STOP pushing it away (denying it) with our medication of choice: Drugs, Alcohol, Anger, CoDependency, etc.

c.     Once and for all, you have to take it out, acknowledge it – push through it – and put it behind you so it isn’t constantly in your face.

d.     You’ve heard me say that : “Past only has power over your present & future WHEN you give it that power.”

                                               i.     Some wise person once said:  “We need to use our past as a springboard, not a sofa – a guidepost, not a hitching post.”

                                             ii.     Well, too many of us do exactly that:  We lay around with the remote control, replaying painful scenes from our past – hitting repeat over & over., crying at all the same places – feeling the sting and the guilt.

1.     ASK:   Are you one of those people who:

a.     Rationalizes the Past?

b.     Complains about the Present?

c.     And Fears the Future?

2.     Well:  GOD says you need to:

a.     Accept the past for what it is

b.     Be fully present in the here and now

c.     & Be optimistic about the future

3.     So, Get up;  Get out;  and start living again !!!

4.     STAY on the Road To Recovery that we talk about all the time around here. 

 

4.     OK,  Let’s look at Principle #4 again:   It says: “Openly examine and confess my faults to myself, to God, and to someone I trust.”

a.     What exactly does this principle mean to you?

b.     It seems to me that it means: “”That this is the place & TIME where we “come clean” with ourselves, others, and God Himself.””

c.     This will be the process where you clean out all the rotting decay of your past.

                                               i.     Think of it like going to the Dentist to have a rotting tooth cavity cleaned out and repaired.

d.     Maybe the metaphor of “cleaning house” works better for you – where you clean out the clutter and the toll that years of neglect and abuse have taken from your life.  

                                               i.     In effect, you will be letting the LIGHT OF GOD’S TRUTH shine on your mess and expose it for what it really is.   AND  once exposed,  you WILL FIND FREEDOM from life’s HHH.
 

e.     OK,  Before we can confess our faults/sins to someone else, or to God; we have to DO step #4 of the 12 Steps:

                                               i.     “We make a searching and fearless MORAL inventory of ourselves.”

                                             ii.     THIS is where the work of actually writing out our “MORAL” begins.

f.      SO, What exactly is this thing we call a “MORAL INVENTORY” ?

                                               i.     The word:  MORAL is often misunderstood (not just in CR Circles either)

                                             ii.     Simply put;  Another word for MORAL is  HONEST.  (yes – it really is that simple.  Don’t make it more complicated than it actually is.)

                                            iii.    SO,  you could change Step 4 of the 12 Steps to read: 
            “Make a fearless & HONEST  inventory of ourselves.”
 

g.     Some of you may be thinking:  That’s great, but how do I do this ?

                                               i.     Well, tonight’s acrostic (M O R A L ) will help you by explaining the five 5 things you need to do to prepare you to write your “MORAL”/ HONEST Inventory.

                                             ii.     OK, let’s get started:  The first letter in the acrostic MORAL is “M” which stands for MAKE TIME.

1.     Plan a time to sit down and do it.  Even if you have to schedule the time on your calendar – but plan the time.

2.     Set aside a day or a weekend (whatever it takes) to think this through and DO IT WITH HONESTY & INTEGRITY.

3.     PRAY about it ahead of time – ask God to meet you there and I guarantee He WILL show up.

a.     I go to a monastery in Corning NY

4.     Job 33:33 is so cool here:   God is speaking to Job after Job has dumped all his troubles on Him.   And God says: 
“Listen to me.  Keep Silent, and I will teach you wisdom !”

a.     ASK:  What pops out to you in this simple passage of scripture?

b.     This is what I see:  God is saying to Job: 
“Shut up & Listen”

c.     Did you know that the word: LISTEN is an anagram with the word: SILENT

                                                                                                     i.     Same letters just rearranged

5.     Christians are really not very good at “Listening To God”

a.     Good at reading Bibles, Prayer, Fellowship,  etc. but not very good at approaching God in SILENCE, expecting Him to speak as we quietly wait. 

b.     In I Kings 19:12 we read that God came to ELIJAH NOT in the thunderous wind, the earthquake, or the fire;  BUT in a “Still small voice” – “A Gentle Whisper” as the NIV translates. 

                                                                                                     i.     ASK:  Do you know what he said to Elijah that day in the “Gentle Whisper” ?

                                                                                                   ii.     HE whispered in his ear that by His Spirit  & His Word; He would bring redemption and righteousness to Elijah.

1.     (Aside:  definition of “righteousness” is “MORALLY right)
 

                                            iii.    The next letter in our acrostic is “O” which stands for “OPEN up”

1.     In order for your Moral & Honest Inventory to have any value you need to OPEN yourself up – Emotionally & Spiritually.

2.     You will be challenged to open your heart and memory to allow the feelings from your past to surface. 

a.     These may be feelings that you have repressed, blocked, or denied for a very long time.

b.     When you Repress, Block, or Deny your feelings you are also Repressing, Blocking, or Denying your RECOVERY from your HHHs.

3.     In a sense, you need to “Open Wide Up” in order to see the truth.

a.     I realize this may be a very scary thing to do, but healing comes from looking at your HHHs in the light of God’s Truth, NOT what the enemy has told you.

4.     SPECIAL NOTE:  Once you have seen the truth about your HHH you MUST EXPRESS THAT TRUTH.

a.     Listen again to how Job did this in Job 7:11
“Let me express my anguish, Let me be free to speak out of the bitterness of my soul.”

 

5.     OK,  we are still in “O” “open up”.    I want you to pay particular attention here.  I’m going to ask you a question.  I want you to write the answer to my question on your handout somewhere.  This is NOT for anyone else to see – just for you.

a.     OK, Here Goes – First Question”

                                                                                                    i.     WHAT DO YOU FEEL GUILTY ABOUT ?

b.     Quickly – write the first thing that comes to your mind.

c.     What you just wrote will be at the top of your list when you write your Inventory.

d.     AHH,  “GUILT” – As a former Roman Catholic I know all about guilt.

e.     For me, my guilt was all about not being strong enough and allowing my abuse as a child to vent anger all around me. 

f.      So, what does God’s Word say about that? 

                                                                                                     i.     In Romans 8:1 we are told:
“There is now no condemnation (guilt) for those who are in Christ.”

                                                                                                   ii.     I’ll be transparent with you all here that this was a hard nut to crack in me.  The guilt and anger had built a hard shell around my heart and soul.

g.     BUT God’s Word goes on to say:
“Once we ask Jesus into our hearts, AND confess our wrongs, AND accept His forgiveness, AND turn from our sins, - THEN as far as God is concerned there is no more guilt or shame to make us feel bad about that sin

h.     AND, isn’t it true that we often hang on to the guilt and shame, and beat ourselves up about it long after God is finished with it.    THAT is what “condemnation” is.  BUT it is not from God.  We do it to ourselves.

 

i.      Now, the Next Question I want you to answer quickly is this:  WHAT DO I RESENT ?

                                                                                                     i.     In other words:  What are you bitter about?

                                                                                                   ii.     Were you treated unfairly?

1.     For me this was one of my biggest hurdles:  I resented my church for putting me in danger, my family for not believing me and sending me back to the abuser, and even God Himself for not protecting me from the abuser.

2.     For you it could be a person who introduced you to drugs, porn, or gambling.

3.     Maybe you resent someone who enabled your poor choices and didn’t help you understand your HHH
 

j.      Another Question:
WHAT ARE MY FEARS ?

                                                                                                     i.     What are you afraid will happen if you don’t recover from your HHH?

                                                                                                   ii.     For me, it all focuses on my anger.  I walk around sometimes with deep rage in me and I fear that in a weak moment I will vent that anger on someone and fracture a relationship. 

                                                                                                  iii.    This quote sort of slaps me right in the face:
“FEAR reveals what you value most; and where you trust God the least.”

k.     Next Question: 
HOW DO I ALLOW SELF-PITY, COMING UP WITH ALIBIS, AND DISHONEST THINKING, TO SOOTHE MY GUILT & SHAME ?

                                                                                                     i.     This question is all about “The Truth”. 

                                                                                                   ii.     Remember:  “The Truth does not EVER change – only your feelings about truth are all that changes.

l.      OK Now,  These Questions are only the beginning of your MORAL INVENTORY. 

                                                                                                     i.     Now, don’t get all discouraged ; because you don’t have to face these alone – or all at once. 
We will help you. 

 

                                            iv.     The next letter in our “MORAL” acrostic is “R”.   R for RELY.

1.     You need to RELY on someone (or some thing) to give you courage & strength to fight for your freedom from HHH.

2.     Whatever you RELY on WILL be your “go to”, your
HIGHER POWER.

3.     We believe here at CLA and CR that
JESUS MUST be your Higher Power.   
And here’s why:

a.     Isaiah 40:29  “Jesus gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.”

b.     Think about this for a moment: 

                                                                                                     i.     When you were at your lowest point of addiction and/or felt trapped in your HHH  -  didn’t you long for strength to resist your temptations?  Didn’t you want “something or someone” to increase your power to resist

c.     So, where do you think this strength & power is going to come from when you’ve already tried everything and failed time after time?  

                                                                                                     i.     The only logical conclusion is that you need a “Higher Power” that is beyond human temptation and the carnal drive to be satisfied. 

d.     IN OTHER WORDS:  WITH JESUS – YOU CAN DO THIS !

4.     SO, YOUR PART in this battle for your life is to muster up the COURAGE TO “RELY”. 

a.     Remember that “Courage is not the absence of FEAR,  But the conquering of it !


 

                                              v.    OK, Now,   Once you’ve conquered your fears of stepping into the fight for freedom from your HHHs. You will be ready to  embrace the next letter in the MORAL acrostic:
“A”  -  ANALYZE  -  OR  -  Take a closer look so you can UNDERSTAND why & how you got to this point in your life.

1.     Have you noticed how the 4th step in the 12 steps is written?
“… a searching & fearless”  moral inventory.

2.     Counselors have long understood that people (you), cannot put their sins, faults, or pains of the past behind them
UNTIL YOU FACE THEM !!

a.     I know this is hard

b.     I know you don’t want to relive pain of past

c.     But DARE to search your feelings and your fears with Jesus by your side to help you to be free.

3.     Proverbs 20:27 tells us the truth about how we were made:
“The Lord gave you a mind and a conscience;  you cannot hide from yourself.

a.     ASK:  Have you ever tried to hide from yourself? 
Well, I have:

                                                                                                     i.     One day I came to realize that the true measure of my honesty was in how I behaved , and the thoughts I entertained when no one was looking.

                                                                                                   ii.     For me it often hit me when I was laying in bed at night – staring at the ceiling  - with a bitter rage in my heart – sometimes even toward God.  

                                                                                                  iii.    Like a fool I embraced the rage and made stupid vows that I would never be hurt again. 

                                                                                                  iv.     Eventually, with the help of Jesus I learned how to keep my rage from hurting others, but when I was alone the temptation was still there – hurting ME – crippling me  - and too often I gave in – to my own peril.

b.     ASK:   Have any of you been in a similar dark place in your Recovery Journey?

                                                                                                     i.     What are the dark things that you embrace in those moments when  you feel out of control?

 

                                            vi.     This is where the last letter of our MORAL acrostic comes in:
“L” – for LIST:

1.     Your Moral/Honest INVENTORY is basically a written LIST of the major milestone events of your past – both the good and the bad.

2.     You’ve heard us say over and over that you MUST keep your Inventory BALANCED with the good and the bad. 

a.     This is why we encourage you to be as positive as you can in your small groups.  

b.     Yes, you will be feeling pain and remembering the pain and failures, but you must also take account of the positive – not the least of which is you attending CR right now and having a “Forever Family” that has walked in your shoes and who understand your pain. 

3.     You know, there is something very “Freeing” – “Healthy” about seeing your past in print in front of you.

a.     You can’t help but come face-to-face with the REALITY of your CHARACTER.

4.     Your Inventory (List if you will) becomes a black & white discovery of who you truly are – way down deep  -  the good and the not so good.

5.     If you only look at the negative or failures of your past, you distort the Inventory.  BEWARE, because you WILL be tempted to do dwell on the negative.

a.     Most people – when asked to give an account of themselves find it much easier to list faults/failures than strengths or victories.  -  More Pain than Joy.

b.     Lamentations 3:40 can help us here:
“Let us examine our ways and test them.”

                                                                                                     i.     ASK:  What does this verse imply to you?

                                                                                                   ii.     ASK:  What does “test them” mean?

                                                                                                  iii.    Notice the verse does NOT say to only look at the “bad” things  - It says to have an honest look at “our ways” – all of them.




 

5.     CLOSING

OK,  I realize this has been a long lesson – and it has some pretty difficult challenges in it.

a.     So, I have a word of caution for you: 

                                               i.     You are approaching a fragile point in your recovery.

                                             ii.     Many people get stuck – right here at this place on their journey

                                            iii.    For some – this is where it gets too hard and too painful – and too many slip back into relapse or quit altogether.

b.     THIS is why it is so important for you to have a SPONSOR. 

                                               i.     Ron taught on this the last time and he gave you all the reasons and showed you how to find a sponsor.

                                             ii.     Be aggressive about this – pray and ask God to lead you to someone.

                                            iii.    They can help you stay balanced in your Inventory

                                            iv.     They won’t and shouldn’t do the Inventory FOR you, but would keep a fire lit under you to push on and work through it.

                                              v.    And then there is the rest of us – your Forever Family – We are your encouragers – your Balcony People. 
 

                                            vi.     YOU NEED ALL OF US.

Confess

1.    This Lesson is Based on Principle 4 & Step 5:

a.    Principle 4:  “Openly examine and confess my faults to myself, to God, and to someone I trust.”

b.    Step 5:  “Admit to God, to myself, and to another human being the exact nature of my wrongs.”

2.    ASK:  I have told the story of “Jessica McClure” here in the past.   It fits so well with this lesson that it really should always be a part of this lesson.

a.    Jessica, at the time, was an18 month old girl   /  Texas  /  fell into abandoned well-pipe hole quite few years back

b.    400 people took part in her rescue

c.     Took 2 ½ days to get her out

d.    Remember they played back tape of rescuers hearing her cries for help / anguish / frustration / pain.

e.    In order to rescue little Jessica the rescuers decided quickly on 2 phases of the rescue:

1.    Phase 1:   Get someone down there next to her – ASAP

2.    Phase 2:   Actually extracting her from the well

f.      ASK:  Why do you think Phase 1 was so important? – to get someone down there ASAP?

                                              i.     Later, after being interviewed, Rescuers said:  “They were Driven by knowledge that people tend to do and think strange things when they are trapped alone in a dark scary place for long periods of time.”

                                             ii.     They get “disoriented”  &  fears get blown out of proportion

                                           iii.     Minds play tricks on them

                                           iv.     AND, sometimes they start to do “self-destructive” things.

                                             v.     AND,  sometimes they just “give up”

 

 

g.    ASK:    Does any of this sound familiar to any of you?

                                              i.     Jessica McClure’s rescuers knew they needed to get someone down there to be with her ASAP

                                             ii.     Only then – could they turn their attention on how they were going to get her out of the well. 

                                           iii.     The plan worked for Jessica – she was saved and is now a happy healthy young woman.

3.    SO -   How does this story relate to Step 5? :  “Admit to God, to yourself, and to another human being the exact nature of your wrongs.”  ?

a.    Well, - When you admit to God, yourself & Another - your wrongs  -  you are basically admitting that :

                                              i.     you are “Out Of Control”

                                             ii.     that you need help w/ your problems

                                           iii.     that you can’t live your life the way you used to live it

                                           iv.     that your old ways just don’t work anymore.

b.    To make matters worse:  You realize that the issue you are struggling with (HHH) is really being DRIVEN by a whole set of “Character Defects”.

c.     SO  What are you to do?   Well, God wants to “Chisel Away” at those character defects.  (remember the God’s Chisel video by skit guys?)

                                              i.     He wants to Free you of the bondage of those defects in your life.

                                             ii.     Good news is :  “You’ve already started letting Him / by: 

1.    Admitting your problems / sins

2.    Making an “Inventory” of the problems / sins

a.    Literally LISTING them, Admitting them, OWNING them – Letting God “CHISEL” THEM OUT OF YOU.

b.    Basically – taking responsibility for the “Big 7 Deadly Sins”

                                                                                                    i.     ASK:  Can you list them?

                                                                                                   ii.     Pride – anger – envy – lust – greed – gluttony – sloth

c.     ASK:  Do you know why there are “7”?

                                                                                                    i.     NOT because #7 is perfect number in scripture – no

                                                                                                   ii.     The #7 in Hebrew means: “To Be Complete”

1.    From Solomon in  Proverbs 6:16-19

2.    SO, IF you have all 7 of the “Deadly Sins”, then you are “completely” or totally sinful.

 

d.    OK,  If you have been honest these past few months  AND  you HONESTLY did your inventory – you might be feeling like you are trapped at bottom of a big dark well.

                                              i.     Like our example with the little girl (Jessica) in the well,  you can get disoriented – frightened, discouraged.

                                             ii.     You might be asking yourself tonight:  “Why did I ever take this recovery journey in the first place?”    You might be wanting to Bail Out as some others have already done when it got too uncomfortable.

1.    I know some of you are thinking things like:

a.    “I am royally messed up and I don’t think anything can straighten me out”

b.    OR “If anyone ever found out what is really going on in my head, they wouldn’t have anything to do with me.”

c.     OR “ This is too hard to stay committed to this program.  I am just going to go back to pretending that everything is OK, and just let time work all this out.”

2.    IT’S  AT  THIS  CRITICAL  JUNCTURE in the process that we need to get another human being to come alongside of us as soon as possible. 

3.    AS God is “Chiseling Away” at your HHH & the surrounding “junk” – you need to get someone along side of you so you do NOT slip back into denial

4.    We are at the point (right now in this program) where you need to come clean by telling another human being the truth about who you really are.     But How?

Take out your bulletin and we will begin to see through the acrostic:  CONFESS

OK,   Let’s get started:

1.    C in confess is “CONFESS”  OR  “Come Clean” - what else? 

a.    God wants us to come clean and admit that wrong is wrong,   that we are guilty as charged.  We need to “own up” or God cannot begin to Chisel away at these issues.

b.    Once “confessed”:

                                              i.     Shame is OVER

                                             ii.     Truth (& it’s healing power) take over

 

c.    Proverbs 28:13 says:  “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.”

                                              i.     Point:  Confession is necessary for fellowship w/God.   Sin creates a barrier before God, but Confession removes that barrier & restores fellowship with God.

 

2.    O in confess is “OBEY” God’s directions: (remember that principle #4 sums up HOW to OBEY)

a.    Basically – “Confession” means we agree w/God regarding our sins.   

b.    He can try and try to “chisel” away at our sins, but unless we agree w/Him, we are not on the same page.

c.     (OK, First) Romans 14:12:  “…everyone will have to give an account of himself to God.”

d.    Then this is HOW to obey:   James 5:16  brings it on home:  “Confess your sins TO EACH OTHER and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”

 

3.    N – next letter is N:   Means:  NO  MORE  GUILT !!!

a.    You need to toss out your “Rear View Mirror” way of looking at your life.

b.    There’s NO point in second guessing yourself OR others.

c.     Romans 8:1 says:  “There is no condemnation now for those who live in union with Christ Jesus.”

                                              i.     Verdict is in:  “ALL HAVE SINNED”   BUT  God declares us “Not Guilty!!” by reason of no accusation in Christ.

 

4.    So that’s the “C,O,N” of confess.  -  The “con” is over   NOW we need to ‘FESS” up & we will have 4 positive changes in our lives.

 

 

 

 

 

5.    F – in confess stands for:  “FACE the truth”    .

a.    It’s been said:   “Man occasionally stumbles over the truth in his life.”  Most of time he will pick himself up and continue on.”

                                              i.     Recovery does NOT work like that.

                                             ii.     Recovery REQUIRES / DEMANDS honesty in order to be effective.

                                           iii.     Jesus said:   “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  John 8:12

                                           iv.     Have you ever noticed that people who always seem to speak the truth seem to always be “at ease” with themselves and everyone else around them.?   Well, that’s the next positive change that comes from confession:

1.    People who are not honest are NOT at ease with themselves, and they open themselves up to every arrow the enemy shoots – even physical issues CAN come from a lack of being “at ease”.  This is where the word:  Disease comes from:  Dis – ease.!

2.    Dishonesty / Lying requires a perfect memory which no one has.

a.    Honesty (speaking the truth) never has that pressure.

b.    Even exaggeration requires a perfect memory

3.    Eventually it makes us sick !  -  which eases us into the next letter in our acrostic:

 

6.    E – Confession eases the pain.

a.    “we are only as sick as our secrets!”   Whew!

b.    When we share our deepest secrets, we begin to divide the pain from the shame. 

c.     A healthy self worth begins to surface

d.    Listen: “pain is inevitable for all of us, but Misery is optional.”

                                              i.     Psalm 32:3-5 says:  “there was a time when I wouldn’t admit what a sinner I was.  But my dishonesty made me miserable and filled my days with frustration…My strength evaporated like water on a sunny day until I finally admitted all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide them.  I said to myself, I will confess them to the Lord.  And you forgave me!  All my guilt is gone.”

 

 

7.    S – The first S in Confess reminds us that we can now STOP the blame game.

a.    Been said :  “people who can smile when something goes wrong probably just thought of somebody they can blame it on.”

b.    Truth:  We can’t find peace if we continue to blame ourselves OR others. 

                                              i.     Our secrets only isolate us from each other.

c.     In Matthew 7:3  Jesus drives the point home:  “…why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and fail to see the plank in your own…  Take the plank out of your own eye first – only then will you be able to see clearly enough to be helpful with others.”

8.    S – Finally, the last letter – S – stands for:  START

a.    Start accepting God’s forgiveness.

b.    Start letting him Chisel out of you the lies and affects of sin on your life.

c.     Start allowing his unconditional love to flow over you.

d.    1st John 1:9 puts it all in perspective:  “…if we confess our sins, he will forgive our sins, because we can trust God to do what is right.  He will (chisel away) all the impacts of the sin and cleanse us from all the wrongs we have committed.”

 

Ready

 

1.    Tonight’s  lesson based on Principle 5 & Step 6:

a.    Principle 5:  “I voluntarily submit to every change God wants to make in my life and ask Him to remove my character defects.

b.    Step 6:  “I am entirely READY to have God remove all these defects of character.”

2.   Congratulations !!!

a.    IF  You’ve made it to this point it means you’ve been working through all the steps and principles so far:  ASK:  Do you know what it means to “work” the steps?

1.  “The steps only work when you work the steps!”

                                    ii.     Admitted you have a problem

                                  iii.     Admitted you are powerless over it on your own

                                  iv.     Come to believe that God could & will help you

                                    v.     Seek Him and turn your life & will over to His care & control

                                  vi.     (more recently) Wrote a “Spiritual Inventory” & shared that with God and another person

b.    Whew!   Lot of work

                                     i.     May be thinking:   “this is tough – time for a breather, rest” – Right?   WELL, think again !!!

3.    In most “recovery programs”  this step (# 6) is referred to as the step that “Separates the men from the boys”! 

a.    ADD:  Whatever the female equivalent is?   (Women form girls?) 

b.    SO  TONIGHT    going to answer the question:  

                                     i.     “WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE ENTIRELY READY ? “

4.    Ok,   Lets look at Principle 5 again (on your handout)  and see why this might separate the Men from boys (women from girls)

a.    “Voluntarily submit to every change God wants to make in my life and humbly ask Him to remove my character defects.”

 

 

b.    OK, then,  ASK:  What parts of this are so difficult?

                                     i.     Is it the “voluntary” piece?

                                    ii.     Or the “Submit” idea?

                                  iii.     Maybe it’s the realization that if you DO ask God to “remove” character defects – He will actually do it.

c.     ANSWER is in “Step 6” where it says “WE  ARE  READY”  to submit.   ARE  YOU  READY?    DO  YOU  FEEL  READY ???

5.    Alright Now .   Let’s be honest here.   ASK:  Wouldn’t you be willing to have some of your “Character Defects”  just GO AWAY?    I know I would !   

a.    Been working on some my entire adult life.

b.    Some just hang in there don’t they? – very hard to give up  (PAUSE   FOR  EFFECT)  Stare at them.  (I SAID:  Repeat “some…”)

c.     I can tell from the blank looks on your faces that you have no idea what I’m talking about – DO  YOU?

d.    When I say “Character Defects”   I am NOT talking about your HHH or your Addiction.    I’m talking about the character defects that GO ALONG with it. OR  that may have been at least partly responsible for your vulnerability in the first place.

e.    ASK:   anyone brave enough to guess what I’m talking about here??    What kind of Character Defects could I possibly be referring to?

                                     i.     BRAINSTORM here:

                                    ii.     Some of us are getting a little uncomfortable now.  Starting to realize why this gets difficult here.

6.    OK,  Let me be a bit more transparent

a.    My Anger issues were (are) never simply in isolation. 

b.    They are not triggered out of thin air

c.     SAME is true for the alcoholic or the co-dependent, or the one struggling with release from a great pain.

                                     i.     For all of us there comes a time of CLARITY – right?

                                    ii.     For Some – it’s when we hit bottom – say we are ready to stop the destructive patterns

 

 

                                  iii.     BUT,  are we truly ready at that point? 

1.    SURE, we want drinking, pain, anger to stop,   BUT   are we ready to ALSO:

a.    Stop lying

b.    Let go of resentments

c.     Stop playing games w/ourselves

d.    Stop manipulating people around us

e.    Stop the self pity party

f.     Stop the arrogance & control

g.    Stop being selfish & Lazy

h.    Stop being narcissistic and self absorbed

d.    You see – these are the Character Defects that were (at least in part)  responsible for setting me up for my fall. 

                                     i.     Like weeds – keep rising up and choking off any sincere efforts to change / heal.  These defects have roots.

e.    We’ve formed these defects for years – it’s the “STUFF” we carry around like baggage that weighs us down

                                     i.     Tonight,   going to see that You & God – together – are going after this “STUFF” – together.     ALL  of it!  Because it’s this “STUFF” that results in our brokenness and feeling like we can’t go on – that we don’t have the strength to let God reshape us and finally rid us of our Character Defects.

PLAY VIDEO:  “Stuff” by Sermon Spice.

            Segue: ASK:  How many of us have ever felt that we’ve messed up so many times that God wouldn’t possibly Forgive/ Accept / or  Love,  us?     

Are you finally READY to bring your “Stuff” and let go of it once and for all time?

 

 

 

 

 

7.    OK,  Take out tonight’s handout:      Acrostic tonight is READY

a.    First letter “R” stands for Release control

                                     i.     God is courteous & patient.   He will wait for you – till you are “Ready”  to give Him control

                                    ii.     Notice that the Step 6 here says that you are “Entirely Ready” to release control… OF  EVERY AREA OF YOUR LIFE.

1.    He won’t force himself on you – he won’t come in and clean up an area UNLESS you are willing to ask Him in.

                                  iii.     Psalm 143:10 sets this idea:  “Help me to do your will, for you are my God.  Lead me in good paths, for your Spirit is good.”

b.    The “E” stands for:  EASY does it.   

                                     i.     These Steps & Principles are not “quick fixes”    Must allow time for God to do His work in you.

                                    ii.     Remember !!  The idea here is NOT JUST to get you to stop doing wrong / to stop sinning.

1.    The sin is only the symptom of the character defect.

a.    Let Me Explain:  the Sin is like the weed in a garden – it will keep reappearing unless it is pulled out by the root.

                                                                                           i.     The Root:  is the actual character defect that CAUSES the sin.

                                                                                          ii.     In the case of alcoholic:  The Act of Sin is abusing the alcohol,  while the defect of character may be something like:

1.    Poor self-image or even “self-loathing”

2.    OR  Bent toward fulfilling selfish desire / hedonism

3.    OR  Deceitful  habits  of  covering up some truth about ourselves,  or a Lying Spirit.

4.    Etc.  Remember Tommy in
“God’s Chisel” Video?

2.    So, what are we to do?   WE GO  AFTER  THE  DEFECT !!!   Not the sin.

a.    That takes Time – But God WILL do it.  He promised !  in Psalm 37:5   “Commit everything you do to the Lord.  Trust him to help you do it and he will…”

c.      Next Letter is “A” :   ACCEPT  the change:

                                     i.     OK,  Seeing the need for change   &  allowing the change to occur are two different things.

                                    ii.     The space between these two things can be enormous  AND filled w/Fear

                                  iii.     WE must be READY to accept God’s help during that transition from seeing the need & allowing the change.

1.    Bible is clear on this:  I Peter 1:13  “So then, have your minds READY for action.  Keep alert and set your hope completely on the blessing  which will be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.  Be obedient to God, and do not allow your lives to be shaped by those desire you had when you were still ignorant.”  ASK:  “Are You Still Ignorant ???”

                                  iv.     Remember:  all the steps you have taken so far on your journey of recovery have been building up to the “Ultimate Surrender”  found in tonight’s principle.

                                    v.     James 4:10 states:  “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up…”

1.    AHH -  Humility !!

a.    You are going to see this subject of “Humility” over and over again. 

                                                                                           i.     It’s all through the “12 Steps”

                                                                                          ii.     The subject of “humility” or being humble etc. is mentioned 72 times in scripture.  This is important to God because it is completely necessary in order for “True Repentance” to be believed.

1.    Like a 3 legged stool..

a.    Humility, Brokenness, Repentance

b.    Without all 3 the stool will not stand, cannot hold us up..

d.    Moving on to next letter:  “D”:  DO  REPLACE your character defects

                                     i.     OK,  you know that for some of you – you have been spending years building up your HHH – addictions.  (actually your character defects).

1.    When God helps you by removing one; you MUST replace it (character defect) with something positive in your life  OR the likelihood is that you will fall back into the HHH / sin.

a.    Replace it w/ CR Program meetings, Church attendance/involvement, volunteering, Toy Share,  Spiritual Disciplines, etc.

b.    REMEMBER:  “…can’t get rid of old habit…”

c.    Listen to Matthew 12:43 – 42 here:  “When an evil spirit goes out of a person, it travels over dry country looking for a place to rest.  If it can’t find one, it says to itself, “I will go back to my house.” So it goes back and finds the house empty,…then it goes out and brings along seven other spirits even worse than itself, and they come to live there.”

                                                                                           i.     Wow.   Sobering thought isn’t it?

d.    You’ve heard me say that one of the character defects for me as a result of my abuse was a devastated self-esteem. 

                                                                                           i.     I looked for self esteem in drugs, alcohol, trying to “fit in”, and when those didn’t work my self esteem took a nose dive.   I then turned to Anger (which was in reality my true expression of my insecurities AND as a way to drown out my pain.)

                                                                                          ii.     It wasn’t until I found relief through counseling and recovery that my life started to come back together. 

                                                                                        iii.     TO  THIS  DAYIf I do not constantly work at REPLACING my character defects with positive substitutes – I can easily fall back to my old ways.

e.    Last Letter is “Y”   YIELD to the growth.

                                     i.     What is the opposite of “Yielding to the growth”?    

                                                                                           i.     ANSWER:  Self Doubt, Refusing Growth, Stagnation

2.    Self Doubt breeds poor self image.

a.    What will a poor self image tell you? 

                                                                                           i.     ANSWER:  You are not worthy of becoming the person God intends for you to become.

b.    Don’t believe it.   Lie from pit of hell.    YIELD to the growth.  It is the HS work in you.

                                    ii.     I John 3:9  sets this in stone:  “The person who has been born into God’s family does not make a practice of sinning, because now God’s life is in him;  so he can’t keep on sinning., for this new life has been born into him and now controls him – he has been born again.”

 

2.    QUESTION IS:  Are you entirely ready to voluntarily submit to any and all changes God wants to make in your life? – to literally allow HIM to get rid of the “STUFF” you’ve been carrying around

a.    If you are, then read the verses found in the handout from our last lesson on ADMIT;  and pray the following prayer:

                                     i.     “Dear God,  thank you for taking me this far in my recovery journey.

                                   ii.     Now I pray for your help in making me entirely ready to change all my character defects.

                                  iii.     Give me strength to face the truth of who I am including my faults which I turn over to you.

                                  iv.     Help me to ACCEPT all the changes that you want to make in me. 

                                    v.     Help me be the person that you want me to be .  In Jesus’ name;;     Amen

 

3.    Dismiss to Open Share Groups

a.    Newcomers to room 304 with: __________________

12 Steps For The Recovering Pharisee (like me)

12 Steps For The Recovering Pharisee  (like me)

 

STEPS:

 

1.    We admit that our single most unmitigated pleasure is to judge other people.

 

2.    We have come to believe that our means of obtaining greatness is:  to make everyone lower than ourselves (in our own mind that is.)

 

3.    We come to realize that we detest mercy being given to those who (unlike us), haven’t worked for it – and don’t deserve it.

 

4.    WE have decided that we don’t want to get what we deserve after all.  AND, we don’t want anyone else to get what they deserve either.

 

5.    We will cease ALL attempts to apply “Biblical teachings & rebuke” to everyone else – but ourselves.

 

6.    We are entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character & attitude. (same as CR)

 

7.    We embrace the belief that we are – and always will be – experts at sinning.

 

8.    We are looking closely at the lives of famous men and women of the Bible who turned out to be ordinary sinners like us.

 

9.    We are seeking through prayer and meditation to make a conscious effort to consider others better than ourselves.

 

10.         We embrace the “state of astonishment” as a permanent and glorious
     reality.

 

11.         We choose to rid ourselves of any attitude that is not bathed in
     gratitude.

 

12.         Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we will
    try to carry this message to others who think that Christians are better
    than everyone else.

Seven Reasons We Get Stuck

 

Lesson #25:  The Seven Reasons We Get Stuck 

OK.   The last lesson of this cycle deals with:    The “Seven reasons we get stuck" in our recoveries:

OK, Here they are: 

  1.  If You have not completely worked the Principles of Recovery in the way CR lays out for you.

    1. Maybe trying to move too quickly

    2. Or  avoiding more painful parts

    3. Galatians 5:22 says:  “…Since we live by the spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

  2. If You have not completely surrendered your life & your will to the Lord

    1. Critical – must first ask Jesus Christ into your heart as Savior & Lord .. 

      1.  Second is to seek to follow His will in all your decisions

    2. Are you still holding on to part(s) of your life you haven’t yielded to Him?

  3. If You have not accepted the FORGIVENESS that Jesus offers on the cross

    1. May have forgiven others but not yourself

      1. Remember 1 John 1:9   “…If we confess our sins He is faithful to forgive and cleanse from all wrongs…”

    2. But big question is:   Have you forgiven yourself ?  – this is where I see most people getting stuck in Recovery.

      1. Romans 8:1-2   “…Therefore,  there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.””

  4. If You have not Forgiven others who have harmed you.

    1. You must let go of the pain of the past – harm or abuse.  It will hold you captive if you don’t.


  5. If You are afraid of the risk in making the necessary change.

    1. There may be several reasons you delay the needed change:

      1. Paralyzed by fear of failure

      2. Fear intimacy because of fear of rejection or being hurt again

      3. Fear of the unknown

        1. Sometimes the pain of the mess of the known is preferable to the fear of the unknown.

          1. In scripture the phrase or term “fear not” appears 365 times – one for every day of the year: 

            1. “fear not…”    Isaiah 41:10  

  6. If You are not willing to “own” your responsibility

    1. Remember you are not responsible for all the things that have happened to you BUT YOU ARE responsible for the way you react to them.

      1. Ie:  In case of abuse – no way is a victim at fault or responsible   BUT   are responsible for how (IF) they respond

  7. Finally:   If You have not developed an effective Support Team around you

    1. Sponsor?

    2. Accountability partner?

    3. Solid sober friends?

    4. Loving Family if appropriate?

      1. Galatians 6:2   “…Share each other’s troubles and problems, and so obey our Lords command.”

CR  Daily Action Plan to experience SERENITY:  

  • Continue to take inventory – when wrong, promptly admit it

  • Daily study God’s word & pray

Daily work and live the CR principles to best of ability – beyond CR.

Remember the “SERENITY  Prayer” we prayed earlier ?

Yes

Lesson # 24:  Y E S

 

Tonight’s lesson is based on the last Principle (#8) and the last of the 12 Steps, (#12)

 

Principle # 8:  “Yield myself to God to be used to bring this Good News to others, both by my example and by my words.”

 

Step #12:  “Having had a spiritual experience as the result of these steps, we try to carry this message to others and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”

 

OK, Now, we are near the end of the 25 lesson Cycle in the CR curriculum.  

  1. Society tells us that pain is useless.  -  To be more specific – that “people in pain” are useless.  

  2. We have a saying around here that:   "God Never Wastes A Hurt." 

    1. And also like Dennis in the video, God wants us to know that we are deeply loved no matter what pain we feel.

  3. At CR we know that pain does indeed have value.

    1.   Can anyone tell me what your Pain has taught you in your recovery?   In other words:  Is there value in your pain?

    2. Looking for: 

      1. Patience,

      2. Faith Building Endurance, 

      3. That I am not alone in my suffering, 

      4. Makes the truth of painless heaven all that much sweeter, 

      5. That I can Love through the pain, 

      6. That I am stronger than I thought,

      7. That I need to put on the full Armor if I hope to continue the battle. 

      8. That How I handle my pain is a great witness for God

  4. Yes, “People In Pain”  are of great value to God.

  5. So, while the world says NO – That you have No value, that you are a waste, that you are to be tossed aside – Tonight WE SAY YES, Yes you do.

    1. Your handout has our acrostic for the night:  Y.E.S.   Let’s go through it.

  6. The “Y” in YES stands for Principle #8 itself =  YIELD  myself to God to be used to bring this good news to others, both by my example and by my words.

    1. This term:  “Yield Myself” -  What does that mean to you?

      1. Looking for:

        1. Surrender the right of way

        2. To give up

        3. To give way to what is stronger or better

      2. So, if you were  “giving way” or surrendering the “right of way” to God in your life -  What would that look like?

      3. I believe we are supposed to “hold loosely” to everything we call our own in this world.   WHY?  Because it all comes from Him anyway.  When we YIELD to Him, God can use us as his hands & feet to help Him redeem the lost world.

      4. A good question to interject here may be:  “How can I tell if I am yielding myself to God?

        1. Well, I believe you would see it first in your ATTITUDE

          1. Remember the firefighter in the movie:  FIREPROOF?

            1. At first his attempts to deal with his problems were only half hearted.  He was NOT yielding.

            2. Remember that HUMILITY is a huge factor here

          2. Also, in the HOMERUN movie:  Same thing, the ball player struggled with an attitude that was keeping him from yielding.  

          3. Can anyone tell me what the biggest enemy of yielding to God is:   

            1. YES!  It’s PRIDE

            2. Both men in these movies and countless other films struggle with their pride and ego. 

        2. I think another thing that would tell you if you are Yielding to God is that  “You would see DISCIPLINE forming in your life.” 

          1. Instead I think, sadly, we often see the opposite – we see an undisciplined life full of attempts and failures.

        3. Finally, you would see yourself “Testing your life choices and thoughts against scripture”

  7. The “E” in YES stand for EXAMPLE

    1. You may notice this idea of “living by EXAMPLE has come up frequently in the CR lessons.   That’s because people all around you are watching you like hawks.   They are waiting to see if this “Jesus Approach” to Recovery works or not. 

    2. People will take your example more seriously than your advice any day.

    3. We all know that “Talk Is Cheap”.  That’s because the supply always exceeds the demand.

    4. A BIG Principle in CR is this:  “If you want someone to see what Christ can do for them, let them see what Christ has done for you.”

      1. This poses a rather significant Moral Dilemma:  

        1. Does my lifestyle reflect what I say I believe ????  

      2. I Tim 1:5 says:  “Arouse the love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and a genuine faith…”

      3. Some among us have blessed us by sharing their outstanding and courageous Testimonies: 

        1. PLEASE STAND IF YOU HAVE SHARED YOUR TESTIMONY IN THIS GROUP.

        2. These folks stood here before you, humbled, sharing their weaknesses, letting you see the HHH up close.  In Short:  they gave others a piece of their heart, not just their minds.

        3. I encourage all of you to do this as well

          1. Disclaimer:  Do not have to be fully recovered.

  8. Finally, the “S” in YES stands for “SERVE”

    1. JESUS wants you to serve just as He did.

    2. Now that you are at this point in your recovery you should be able to PASS IT FORWARD in some sort of service to others and to your church.

    3. Jesus said in John 13: 14-15  “And since I, the Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet.  I have given you an EXAMPLE to follow:  do as I have done to you.”

      1. He wasn’t JUST talking about the literal act of washing feet – no, He was talking about SERVICE – having a Servant’s Heart and disposition with one another.

    4. Don’t all have to do the same thing to serve.  There are many ways to serve:

      1. Be an accountability partner – holding one another accountable for growth within your group

      2. If you are ready – You can be a Sponsor

      3. Be a greeter

      4. Help with the food prep AND the clean up

      5. Invite someone to CR or to Church

      6. Get involved with Toy Share

      7. Get involved with the Dramas

      8. Help with the Isaiah 61 Dinners for the Homeless

      9. Serve in the food bank

      10. Serve meals in Harrisburg

      11. Go visit the elderly

      12. DO SOMETHING !!!

  9. Principle # 8 comes down to this dear friends: 

    1. DO WHAT  YOU  CAN ,  WITH WHAT YOU HAVE,  WHERE  YOU  ARE.

Give

 “We Give” really hits home.  I’ll bet you thought this was about giving money.  Not at all.

Lesson 23: GIVE 

  1. Tonight’s lesson based on Principle #8 and Step #12

    1. Principle 8:  “I will yield myself to God to be used to bring this good news to others, both by my example and by my words.”

    2. Step 12:  “Having had a spiritual experience as the result of these steps, I try to carry this message to others and to practice these principles in all my affairs.”

  2. Don’t you just love Principle # 8?    I DO!!    Why?  Because it is so ACTIVE !

    1. Look at the action words here:  “I will yield…”,  “Bring…”,  Be an example…”

    2. This is putting our Faith into Action!

    3. James 2:17 says:  “Faith by itself, if it’s NOT accompanied by action is DEAD.”

      1. When I see or hear people say that they are saved and I don’t see any “action” on their part to “yield”, “bring the good news”, or “be an example”,  I just don’t believe they ever really turned their lives over in the first place and are still in need of salvation. 

        1. These are people who are just “playing me”, God’s people for what they can get from them and not at all really looking to RECOVER from their hurt habit hang-up.

        2. Active faith is important to God.

  3. Tonight going to see how Principle 8 applies to our lives.  We will also see how step 12 fits perfectly with this principle.   Indeed; “carrying the message”  is how we GIVE BACK to God for all He has done for us.

  4. SO,   What is “giving back”?   What does that mean to you and me?

    1. Let’s start by looking at the meaning of the word:  GIVE

      1. In the NT, the word, “give” has 17 different meanings.  For tonight we will stick with the one meaning:

        1. “A “healthy” giving of oneself WITHOUT the slightest trace of expecting to receive back.”

        2. Have you ever known anyone who was honored for what they received?  NO, Honor is always given to those for something they gave.   (Mother Theresa, Nobel Prize honorees, October Pastor Appreciation Month – just kidding)

      2. I love how Matthew 10:8 puts it:  “Freely you have received, freely give.”

  5. OK, let’s look at your handout and tonight’s acrostic:  G I V E

     

    1. G:   stands for God First

      1. When God is first, you realize that everything you have is a gift from Him.

      2. I wonder if you really believe this truth

      3. Do you know that your Recovery is not based on a pill, or a program?  No, it is based on the measure of your faith & your ability to put God first in your life.

      4. Romans 8:32 says:  “…God “gave” his own Son “  So, wouldn’t it just make sense that he would give us everything we need? 

        1. We are never more like God than when we give our very selves.  That’s what Jesus did for us – He gave us the greatest gift – himself.

 

    1. OK, the second letter is “I”:  Stands for the I becoming “we”.

      1. When we GIVE, the I becomes “we”.

      2. The Road to Recovery is NOT meant to be traveled alone. 

        1. It’s all about the group of us, you and your sponsor, you and your open share groups, you and the larger group – here.  

        2. We are all in this together, supporting one another, loving one another, holding one another accountable, carrying one another’s burdens.  It’s all about the “WE”.

      3. You are at the point in your Recovery where you should be ready to be an “accountability partner” yourself for someone else.  

      4. SOME of you are even ready to be a SPONSOR yourself to someone else. 

        1. The rewards are great, and being a Sponsor cements in your heart the resolve you feel to not relapse. 

        2. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 makes this point very clear:  “Two are better off than one, because together they can work more effectively.  If one of them falls down, the other can help him up.  But if someone is alone…there is no one there to help him..Two men can resist an attack that would defeat one man alone.”

 

    1. The 3rd letter “V” stands for VICTORIES  shared.

      1. Remember what I’ve said many times:   “God Never Wastes a Hurt”

        1. He can take our hurts and use them to help others.

        2. Notice we are talking here about VICTORIES here.

          1. Yes, you can’t talk about your victories unless you mention what it is that you have “victory OVER”,  BUT, a word of caution:  Focus more on the victory than the original struggle. 

            1. Some people enjoy just talking about the HHH and that ends up just glorifying the HHH instead of the Victory we have in Christ.     DO you understand me here?

              1. What IS the danger when we do that?

          2. Deuteronomy 11:2 tells us to “remember what we’ve learned about the Lord through our experiences with Him.”

            1. Talk about importance of Open Share Groups here.

 

      1. So, what would this look like?  Could say something like this:

        1. “This is how it was for me; this is the experience of what happened to me.  This is how I gained the strength to begin my recovery – and so there is hope for you…”

          1. Do you see, that whenever we share a word of testimony it should ALWAYS show the Victory.  Otherwise you are just sharing a prayer request and not a word of testimony. 

          2. The Testimony of VICTORY is what builds up the rest of us.  THAT is what we need to hear to encourage us to keep fighting the good fight. 

          3. There is a place for sharing your struggle and your pain in the form of a prayer request, but when you ask to share before the body, you should always include the victory

          4. II Corinthians 1:3 puts this in perspective for us:  “…give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the merciful Father, the God from whom all help comes!  He helps us in all our troubles, so that we are able to help others who have all kinds of troubles, using the same help that we ourselves have received from God.”     Do you see it in this verse? 

        2. All the pain and suffering you’ve endured finally makes sense when you get to Principle 8.   Romans 8:28 finally makes sense to you:  “We know that all that happens to us is working for our good if we love God and are fitting into his plans.”

 

    1. This leads us right into the final letter in our acrostic:  “E” which stands for EXAMPLE.   Example of your actions.

      1. Your actions speak louder than your words:  “walk talks….”

        1. You can have the best intentions, but if there is no ACTION, …

        2. James 1:2 says that we are to be  “doers of the Word” not just hearers.

        3. This is at the heart of what it means to “bring the Good News to others”

        4. I John 3:18 is another way of putting it:  “my children, love must not be only a matter of words or talk, it must be genuine, and show itself in action.”

        5. Giving AND serving are what really show if you Love OR NOT.   You can not Love without giving.

  1. I love how the Message puts this whole thing into context for us through Luke 8:16-19:

    1. “No one lights a lamp and then covers it with a washtub or shoves it under the bed.  No, you set it up on a lamp stand so those who enter the room can see their way.  We are not hiding things; we are bringing everything out into the open.  So be careful that you don’t become misers…generosity begets generosity.”  

    2. So bring the Good News with Joy.

 

Relapse Prevention

Lesson # 21: RELAPSE PREVENTION 

            Segue:           You don’t need to be cleaned up first
                                    Simple message of HOPE for all of us
                                    Don’t let enemy define who you are:
                                                Satan’s labels are not God’s labels
                                                When you start to believe the enemy’s labels you WILL relapse

  •   Can anyone define “Relapse”

    • To fall back – or revert

    • To regress after partial recovery

    • To slip back into bad ways – backslide

        • Can happen after Holidays

        • Or after Drama’s if you are in them

  •   Can anyone tell me the two things that precede Relapse ?

    • Starts w/ Critical Spirit

    • You begin to Isolate yourself from friends, CR, Church, God

    • RELAPSE

  • Research shows clearly that the following conditions need to be present in order for “Relapse” to occur?  (can be only one or combination of any)

      •  (Top 11  risk factors  OR Triggers leading to Relapse)

        • Excessively critical spirit followed by Isolation

        • Venting or expressing anger – violent

        • Anxiety & nervousness

        • Boredom or lack of healthy leisure interests

        • Denial

        • Depression

        • Impulsive behaviors

        • Exhaustion or fatigue

        • Fears – (unhealthy fears)

        • Feeling helpless or hopeless

        • Guilt

 

  • Plan your relapse prevention strategy.

    • Cravings & Urges can be triggered by things all around you that may remind you of the good feeling you got when you medicated your pain with some form of addiction.

  • Get out Tonight’s bulletin and we will go over the RELAPSE Acrostic

    • “R” stands for principle # 7 itself:  RESERVE a daily quiet time with God for Self-examination, Bible Reading, & Prayer.

      • It’s easy to slip back into our old HHH. 

        • Alcoholic goes back to drinking

        • People with food issues go back to letting food control them

        • Gambler goes back to Las Vegas

        • Workaholic fill his schedule back up

        • Codependent goes back to unhealthy relationships

        • Person who struggles with Anger vents that anger on others

        • ON & On it goes.

      • The first step in preventing Relapse is to admit that you WILL be tempted – that you are NOT ABOVE temptation.   Jesus wasn’t, so why should you be?

      • Look at Matthew 4: 1-11

        • “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.  After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.  The tempter came to him and said, if you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.  Jesus answered:  It is written:  Man does not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.  Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple.  If you are the Son of God, he said, throw yourself down.  For it is written:  He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.  Jesus answered him, it is also written: Do not put the Lord your God to the test.  Again the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.  All this I will give you, He said, if you will bow down and worship me.  Jesus said to him, Away from me, Satan!  For it is written:  Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.  Then the devil left him and angels came and attended him.”

        • The test was over  -  The Devil left  -  Jesus was tempted.   He never sinned, but he was tempted.

      • Mark 14:38 tells us: 

        • “Watch & pray so that you will not fall into temptation..  The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”

        • Remember that being tempted isn’t a sin – it’s falling into the action of temptation that gets us into trouble.

        • Temptations are different from opportunities.

          • Temptations will always give you a 2nd chance – not so w/opportunities.

      • Story of man spoke w/ one Sunday a while back:

        • Struggling w/so many weak around him. 

        • Needed to be around strong people who don’t fail & fall back to HHH

        • Struggling to daily stay clean.

        • I reminded him that Recovery does not take place in a vacuum

          • Or in a monastery

        • No, recovery takes place among those who fail. 

    • Same true of sinners.  We don’t recover from sin in a sinless environment free of temptation.   NO – we have to recover from sin in the midst of constant temptations.   All around us.

        • It always astounds me when people get mad and leave churches because there are sinful people there. 

  • The next letter in our acrostic is “E” which stands for EVALUATE

    • The last two weeks we have been talking all about this – won’t repeat, but let me just remind you of what John Baker calls the HEART test:

      • Ask yourself daily if you are :  Hurting – Exhausted – Angry – Resentful – Tense.

      • If you answer yes to any of these, use the tools we’ve already talked about.

 

  • The “L” stands for LISTEN

    • Listen to your higher power – Jesus

    • Need to take time out of daily rat race to hear from God – cleanse & clear our souls & minds:

    • Then apply I Thessalonians 5:21 to it:  “Don’t be gullible.  Check out everything and keep only what is good.  Throw out anything tainted with evil.”

  • The “A” stands for ALONE  -  Don’t be alone!!!   DO NOT ISOLATE YOURSELF!!

    • First part of step 11 says:  “We sought through prayer and MEDITATION to improve our conscious contact with God.”  

      • Meditation is “Alone time w/God”

      • Psalm 46:10 tells us to:  ”be still, and know that I am God.”

      • Some uncomfortable w/ word:  Meditation

        •  All it means is:  “slow down long enough to hear God.”

  • The next letter is “P” which stands for PLUG in to God’s power through prayer.

    • Many times people come to counselors like me and ask:  “Why did God allow this horrible thing to happen to me?”

      • Almost without exception, when asked if they took time to pray about whatever decision they made that got them into trouble – their head drops.  Realize never even brought God into the picture

      • If we don’t daily seek His will for our lives, how can we blame Him when things go wrong?

  • The “S” in our acrostic stands for SLOW

    • Slow down long enough to hear God’s answer

    • After you spend the time praying – need to be patient and be Silent & wait for the answer. Not very good at this.  (NOTE: SILENT & LISTEN = same letters)  NOW. 

    • Philippians 4:7 says:  “

      • If you present your requests to God you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand.  His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus.”

 

 

 

  • The last letter is “E” stands for ENJOY

    • God wants you to ENJOY your growth in Him.

    • You need to celebrate your victories.

    • Rejoice in the small successes along the way.

    • I Thes. 5:16 tells us to “Be joyful always, pray at all times, be thankful in all circumstances.  This is what God wants from you in your life in union with Christ Jesus.”

       

Well, that’s it for tonight. 

            You know, sometimes you may wish for a vacation from your HHH

            Well, that’s the invitation to RELAPSE.  It’s REAL and it hurts.

            Here’s a recap of what you can do to avoid Relapse:

  • Pray & read bible daily

  • Make attending CR a priority

  • Flee from the negative self-talk where you come up with excuses to miss the meetings.

  • Celebrate the little victories – then come and tell us about it at CR

  • Get involved in your church.  Volunteer!   Serve others

  • Don’t feed a critical spirit

  • And DON’T ISOLATE yourself

  • ABOVE  ALL:   Remember that you ARE Redeemed!!

    • God alone has the authority to define your worth and value.

 

Daily Inventory

Lesson 20: Daily Inventory  

                                                          All Scars Tell a Story

(Note:  Another Name for this lesson could be:   “JOURNALING”)

 

  • Ok:  tonight’s lesson based on Principle # 7   &  Step # 10

    • Principle 7:  “Reserve a daily time with God for self-examination, Bible reading, and prayer in order to know God and His will for your life and to gain the power to follow His will.”

    • Step # 10Continue to take personal inventory (JOURNAL) and when you are wrong, promptly admit it.”

  • Scripture these are based on is found in I Corinthians 10:12  

“So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall.”

  • Tonight we are going to look at the “nuts & bolts” or “how to’s” of Step #10

    • First – remember how important it is to Journal. 

    • ASK:   Do you recall me encouraging you to “Journal”?

    • ASK:   Why is it SOOOOOOOO important to Journal?

      • Here is why:

        • When you write down areas where you need to make amends, it will help you see patterns of areas to work on – so you can identify them and develop a strategy to conquer them.

        • Keep your list short !!!   As soon as you write down an issue where you’ve “blown it” you should Plan to PROMPTLY offer your amends.  Then just cross it off the list.

  • OK – Now ,  let’s get some of the “How To’s “  out in open:  (Handout: INSERT)

    • (I can see) Some of you having trouble getting started writing in your journal.  Let me give you 3  HINTS to help you get started:

      • Start by writing just 1 thing that happened that day for which you are thankful.

      • Ask someone (Sponsor/Acct. Part.) to hold you accountable for writing in your journal each night.

      • Memorize Galatians 5:22-23   “The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

  • Memorizing Gal 5:22 will keep the following questions in your conscience.   ANY of these question will help to prompt you to write the answers in your journal:  

  • REMEMBER:  Ultimate goal is CHANGE !!

    • Today; How did I show love to others?

    • Today; Did I act in an unloving way toward anyone?

    • Today; Did others see in me the joy of having a personal relationship with the Lord?  If not, why not?

    • Today; Did I seek to maintain my peace?  Did anything happen that caused me to lose it?  What was my part in it?

    • Today; Was I patient?  What caused me to lose my patience?  Do I owe anyone amends?

    • Today, Did I use my words to encourage & support? OR did I use foul, course language?

    • Today; would anyone say that I was kind/good?  In what ways did I act unkind?

    • Today; How was my faithfulness? 

    • Today;  did I keep my word with everyone?

    • Today;  How was my gentleness and self-control?  Did I lose my tempter, speak a harsh or unkind word to anyone?

  • This process of keeping the DAILY INVENTORY/ JOURNAL is where we start APPLYING what we’ve been learning about here for weeks/months. 

    • We start to take ACTION – positive action – instead of constant “Reactions”

    • We are starting to see ourselves practicing “SELF - CONTROL” the way GOD wants us to be :  which is “Self - Under Control”  Under God’s control is what we are going for – Right?

       

  • God provided us with His own “daily checklist” for our new life in Christ.  It’s called the “Great Commandment”  in scripture and it’s found in Matthew 22:37-40:

    • “Love the Lord your God with all your heart…soul and..mind.:  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself:   All the Law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.”

    • When you write your daily personal inventory, ask yourself:  “Today, did my actions show what the 2nd greatest commandment tells me to do?  Did I love my neighbor(others) as myself?

    • If we try to live by these principles we will be “doers” and not just “Hearers” of God’s  Word.

      • James 1:22  “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.”  

      • Do you know how important this is?  Do you realize that you may be the only “Bible” that someone ever experiences ? 

      • REMEMBER:   can’t be perfect, but must strive for it in every way possible.

         

  • Now, then:  Step 10 does NOT say “how often” we are to “take inventory”.    But Principle #7 says :  “DAILY”     However, here are 3 ways to do a step 10 inventory: 

  •  

    • Do an ON-GOING Inventory:

      • It’s good to keep it near you so that WHEN the time arises that we do a wrong we can PROMPTLY admit it.

        • Example:  foul mood w/Dana.  Asked simple question, I was a bit unkind / harsh in my response. 

          • Tempted to wait till I could rationalize it away

          • OR  promptly admit I was wrong

      • Don’t have to wait till later.  Pop it out of your bag and jot it down.    Even act of having to pull it out may prove to deter behavior.  

        • NOTE:  Lot more fun to write down when you’ve done it right!!!!!

      • Do the ongoing inventory to keep your “Amends list”  short

 

Now, as I said earlier, Principle #7 says do a DAILY inventory

    • Do a DAILY Inventory:

      • Some find it more helpful to sit quietly at the end of their day and look over their activities and take stock of Good, Bad, Ugly, Beautiful

        • Remember to keep it balanced

      • After time you may get very good at this and quickly add it to a routine that you look forward to every day.

      • If you choose the daily route; you can pray over them, ask God to show you the wrongs and then as promptly as you can – even the next morning – admit them and make amends.  

        • (you can see the disadvantage sometimes with this way if the person is out of reach for a while)

    • Do a PERIODIC “In Depth”  Inventory:

      • A periodic in-depth inventory could be every month or 3 months – whatever.

      • People who know me know that I do this every so often (not as often as I should) but I make sure I do get away to a small monastery in NY.

        • 2-3 days (can be shorter)

        • No phone, TV, distractions

        • Nature – commune w/God

        • Do my best “Listening” to God here

      • Some men in the class used to go to a cabin owned by a friend of Jay Greiner

      • Others do BRIDGES:   which is REALLY intense, but still a retreat none-the-less.

      • Still others just go for long walks on quiet paths or shores. 

      • WHEN  (not if) you do this – take your journal and record your “AHA’s” 

        • Record the things that God makes clear to you

        • Record your victories and celebrate them w/God on the retreat.

           

  • Here are some verses you may find helpful:

    • Proverbs 16:23

      • “Intelligent people think before they speak; what they say is then more persuasive.”

    • Ephesians 4:29

      • “Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word, nor unwholesome or worthless talk (EVER) come out of your mouth, but only such speech as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others.”   WOW

    • Proverbs 16:21

      • “A wise, mature person is known for his understanding.  The more pleasant his words, the more persuasive he is.”

    • Proverbs 12:25

      • “A word of encouragement does wonders!”

    • I Corinthians 13:1

      • “If I had the gift of being able to speak in other languages without learning them, and could speak in every language there is in all of heaven and earth, but didn’t love others, I would only be making noise.”

  • ACTION  PLAN   (written in your half sheet handout)

     

  • KEY verse for this entire lesson is  Mark 14:38

    • “Watch and pray so that you do not fall into temptation.  The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”    Truer words never spoken for the one in RECOVERY.

 

Next Time:   (Lesson 21:  How To Avoid RELAPSE.)

Crossroads

 

Lesson # 19: Crossroads   

Ok, We’ve come to a place where we are at a CROSSROADS in your Recovery.

Our lesson tonight based on Principle #7 & Step #10:

  • Principle 7:  “Reserve a daily time with God for self-examination, Bible reading, and prayer in order to know God and His will for your life and to gain the power to follow His will.”

  • Step #10:  “Continue to take personal inventory and when you are wrong, promptly admit it.”

As I said, at a CROSSROADS

  • Traveled long road to get here.

  • Looked honestly at your life, you did inventories, you confessed sins,  honest w/others,  encouraged to practice humility

  • Been allowing God to make changes in you

  • Courage to make amends & to forgive.

Some of you have said to me months ago:   “Too difficult”    “I can’t do it”

In Reality:  You couldn’t have ever made it this far by yourself – on your own power.    You could only have made it this far with Jesus as your higher power.

  • Jesus explains it in John 8:32    “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

  • Then in John 14:6 he defines that truth:  “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.:

  • INDEED – we have all been set free  from our addictions, HHH, compulsive behaviors because of the “TRUTH”

 

SO,   you are at a crossroads now. 

  • Not a time to rest on your laurels and relax

  • Need to work these last 3 steps with same passion we have been following the previous steps.

    • I Corinthians 10:12 says:  “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!”

OK – Before we introduce the remaining steps to the program, lets do a little reflection and feedback.  (come off the stage here)

                        ASK:   What have you learned in CR?   What things has God made clear to you?
                                    What advice would  you give a person just starting CR?

 

Alright, let’s go back to step #10 now & take a closer look:

  • First thing we notice is :   Made up of 3 parts:    WHAT  -  WHY  -  THEN WHAT?

  • The “what” :  “  continue to take personal inventory…”

  • The “why” :    “ we were wrong…”

  • The “then what:”   “ promptly admit it…”

 

OF course we need an  ACROSTIC:    Tonight it is  T E N

  • “T”  take time to do your daily inventory

  • “E”  Evaluate the good & the bad

  • “N”  Need to admit our wrongs promptly

The “T” answers the “what” question

  • Take time to do a daily inventory

  • What is an “Inventory” anyhow?     Simply:  “counting”

    • Businesses take inventory – Taking “Stock”

    • Principle #7 is simply saying you need to reserve a daily time with God for self-examination,(counting) – bible reading – praying.

    • This gives us a designated time each day to count.   ASK:   Count what?

      • Good AND the Bad

        • Blessings, victories, gifts, good decisions made, times you were strong, etc.

        • Not so good:  failures, mistakes, weak moments,

        • Lamentations 3:40 says:  “examine your ways and test them, and return to the LORD.”

    • OK,  we all need to ask ourselves a few questions if we want to truly “examine our ways…”

      • What good did I do today?

      • In what areas did I blow it today?

      • Did I do or say anything that hurt anyone today?

      • Do I owe anyone amends?

      • What did I learn from my actions today?  (good or bad)

      • What did God make clear to me today?

    • So, do you do this?    Are you reflecting on your day in such a way that you are remembering if you harmed anyone, or if you acted in kindness to someone else? 

    • As mentioned in Principle 4, you need to keep this inventory in B A L A N C E

    • One of the reasons for doing the inventories is to keep us from slipping backwards.    Hopefully /  As we remember we will see more good than  bad. 

The “E” in TEN stands for EVALUATE   -   It answers the “why” question

  • Notice the language – it doesn’t say “IF” I were wrong ,  or “if” I blow it.    NO  it says  “WHEN”

  • You will  be wrong sometimes,   and you will make mistakes

    • I  John 1: 8-10 keeps us honest with ourselves:  “If we say we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves, and refusing to accept the truth, But if we confess our sins to him, he can be depended on to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong.   If we claim we have not sinned, we are lying and calling God a liar, for he says we have all sinned.”

    • John 3:21 says WHY:   “whoever lives by the truth comes into the light.”

    • Step 10 brings us into a daily “light” referred to here in John 3

  • Once we see the light – we have a choice – all about choices isn’t it?

  • We choose to ignore what we see OR to act on it. 

The “N” is how we answer the “Then What?” question.   We NEED to admit our wrongs promptly.

  • Many struggle with admitting they are wrong.   It’s what DENIAL is all about.

  • Some refuse to offer amends or even to receive forgiveness. 

    • That is so foolish – blocks all your relationships

    • Need to just do it.

  • One other word in step # 10 is problematic for many of us:   Word:  “PROMPTLY” !!

    • Isn’t it somehow easier to admit the mistakes we made years ago than the one we just made yesterday?

    • BUT  step 10 says:  “PROMPTLY” !!!   

      • As soon as you realize you blew it you need to admit it.

      • Matthew 5:23   This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters.  If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering (of worship), you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right.  Then, and only then, come back and work things our with God.”

        • Do you see the “Promptly” in there?   I do.

One way I keep track of my good & bad behavior is to keep a JOURNAL. (part of this “counting” idea.)

  • Not dumb stuff like calories, or what you watched on TV.

  • Look for positive AND negative patterns   -  do something about them.

  • Share them w/your accountability partner / sponsor

DISMISS TO OPEN SHARE GROUPS:

            Newcomers to room 304 with:____________________________

 

Ok, We’ve come to a place where we are at a CROSSROADS in your Recovery.

Our lesson tonight based on Principle #7 & Step #10:

  • Principle 7:  “Reserve a daily time with God for self-examination, Bible reading, and prayer in order to know God and His will for your life and to gain the power to follow His will.”

  • Step #10:  “Continue to take personal inventory and when you are wrong, promptly admit it.”

As I said, at a CROSSROADS

  • Traveled long road to get here.

  • Looked honestly at your life, you did inventories, you confessed sins,  honest w/others,  encouraged to practice humility

  • Been allowing God to make changes in you

  • Courage to make amends & to forgive.

Some of you have said to me months ago:   “Too difficult”    “I can’t do it”

In Reality:  You couldn’t have ever made it this far by yourself – on your own power.    You could only have made it this far with Jesus as your higher power.

  • Jesus explains it in John 8:32    “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

  • Then in John 14:6 he defines that truth:  “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.:

  • INDEED – we have all been set free  from our addictions, HHH, compulsive behaviors because of the “TRUTH”

 

SO,   you are at a crossroads now. 

  • Not a time to rest on your laurels and relax

  • Need to work these last 3 steps with same passion we have been following the previous steps.

    • I Corinthians 10:12 says:  “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!”

OK – Before we introduce the remaining steps to the program, lets do a little reflection and feedback.  (come off the stage here)

                        ASK:   What have you learned in CR?   What things has God made clear to you?
                                    What advice would  you give a person just starting CR?

 

Alright, let’s go back to step #10 now & take a closer look:

  • First thing we notice is :   Made up of 3 parts:    WHAT  -  WHY  -  THEN WHAT?

  • The “what” :  “  continue to take personal inventory…”

  • The “why” :    “ we were wrong…”

  • The “then what:”   “ promptly admit it…”

 

OF course we need an  ACROSTIC:    Tonight it is  T E N

  • “T”  take time to do your daily inventory

  • “E”  Evaluate the good & the bad

  • “N”  Need to admit our wrongs promptly

The “T” answers the “what” question

  • Take time to do a daily inventory

  • What is an “Inventory” anyhow?     Simply:  “counting”

    • Businesses take inventory – Taking “Stock”

    • Principle #7 is simply saying you need to reserve a daily time with God for self-examination,(counting) – bible reading – praying.

    • This gives us a designated time each day to count.   ASK:   Count what?

      • Good AND the Bad

        • Blessings, victories, gifts, good decisions made, times you were strong, etc.

        • Not so good:  failures, mistakes, weak moments,

        • Lamentations 3:40 says:  “examine your ways and test them, and return to the LORD.”

    • OK,  we all need to ask ourselves a few questions if we want to truly “examine our ways…”

      • What good did I do today?

      • In what areas did I blow it today?

      • Did I do or say anything that hurt anyone today?

      • Do I owe anyone amends?

      • What did I learn from my actions today?  (good or bad)

      • What did God make clear to me today?

    • So, do you do this?    Are you reflecting on your day in such a way that you are remembering if you harmed anyone, or if you acted in kindness to someone else? 

    • As mentioned in Principle 4, you need to keep this inventory in B A L A N C E

    • One of the reasons for doing the inventories is to keep us from slipping backwards.    Hopefully /  As we remember we will see more good than  bad. 

The “E” in TEN stands for EVALUATE   -   It answers the “why” question

  • Notice the language – it doesn’t say “IF” I were wrong ,  or “if” I blow it.    NO  it says  “WHEN”

  • You will  be wrong sometimes,   and you will make mistakes

    • I  John 1: 8-10 keeps us honest with ourselves:  “If we say we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves, and refusing to accept the truth, But if we confess our sins to him, he can be depended on to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong.   If we claim we have not sinned, we are lying and calling God a liar, for he says we have all sinned.”

    • John 3:21 says WHY:   “whoever lives by the truth comes into the light.”

    • Step 10 brings us into a daily “light” referred to here in John 3

  • Once we see the light – we have a choice – all about choices isn’t it?

  • We choose to ignore what we see OR to act on it. 

The “N” is how we answer the “Then What?” question.   We NEED to admit our wrongs promptly.

  • Many struggle with admitting they are wrong.   It’s what DENIAL is all about.

  • Some refuse to offer amends or even to receive forgiveness. 

    • That is so foolish – blocks all your relationships

    • Need to just do it.

  • One other word in step # 10 is problematic for many of us:   Word:  “PROMPTLY” !!

    • Isn’t it somehow easier to admit the mistakes we made years ago than the one we just made yesterday?

    • BUT  step 10 says:  “PROMPTLY” !!!   

      • As soon as you realize you blew it you need to admit it.

      • Matthew 5:23   This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters.  If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering (of worship), you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right.  Then, and only then, come back and work things our with God.”

        • Do you see the “Promptly” in there?   I do.

One way I keep track of my good & bad behavior is to keep a JOURNAL. (part of this “counting” idea.)

  • Not dumb stuff like calories, or what you watched on TV.

  • Look for positive AND negative patterns   -  do something about them.

  • Share them w/your accountability partner / sponsor

DISMISS TO OPEN SHARE GROUPS:

            Newcomers to room 304 with:____________________________

Grace

Lesson # 18: GRACE   

Tonight’s lesson is all about GRACE: 

  1. Comes out of Principle #6 and Step #9

    1. Principle #6: 
      “Evaluate all my relationships.  Offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me and make amends for harm I’ve done to others, except when to do so would harm them or others.”

    2. Step #9:

“Make direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so         would injure them or others.”

  1.  Tonight:  Conclude Principle #6

    1. We’ve talked about how to evaluate all our relationships,

    2. How to offer “Forgiveness (In our recent lesson on Forgiveness – 5 Keys to Forgiveness cards) we learned the Godly process of Forgiveness.

    3. How to “Make Amends”

    4. CLEARLY:  these are the examples set for us by JC

      1. As we draw closer to Him it should be a NATURAL DESIRE to want to model His teachings and His ways.

      2. We should want to be MORE  LIKE  HIM

      3. If  we are EVER going to get this principle and practice it we MUST learn to model his GRACE above all else..     BUT  HOW ??????

         

  2. Begin w/ your thoughts @ Grace:   ASK:  How do you define it?

    1. (Brainstorming here)

    2. Looking for “gift”,  “enough – sufficient”,  can’t be bought – earned,

      1. Where does Grace come from?

      2. Is Grace “one way” – God to us?

    3. GRACE  IS  SUPPOSED  TO  CHANGE  US !!!

    4. GRACE IS A GIFT !

 

  1. You may or may not remember that the KEY VERSES for CR are found in II Cor. 12: 9-10  (with emphasis) :

    1. “But he said to me,  My grace is enough for you.  When you are weak, my power is made perfect in you.  So I am very happy to brag about my weaknesses.   Christ’s power can live in me.  For this reason I am happy when I have weaknesses, insults, hard times, sufferings, and all kinds of troubles for Christ.  Because when I am weak, then I am truly strong.”  

      1. You can see that CR is built on ; and centered in Christ’s Grace for each one of us. 
         

  2. Take out your handout:   Look at tonight’s acrostic:  G R A C E

    1. The “G” in grace is GOD’S Gift

      1. ASK:   Can you buy your own gift?  (if do, not a gift any more)

        1. Def: of “gift”:  “something that is given voluntarily without compensation – a present”

      2. You can not do ANYTHING to get God’s gift.

      3. So – When you offer – OR – (give as a gift) your process of making amends for when you hurt someone OR  Forgive and expect NOTHING  back – Well  that’s a gift from you to those you’ve hurt,  or those who have hurt you.

      4. Romans 3:24 sets this up for us:  “All need to be made right with God by his grace, which is s free gift.   All need to be made free from sin through JC.”

      5. I Peter 1:13 drives the point even deeper:  “Prepare your minds for service and have self-control.  All your hope should be for the gift of grace that will be yours when JC is shown to you.”

      6. Do you see the point here?   -  God does not ask you to be perfect.   He knows you can not be perfect in this world

        1. So – Thank God for his merciful GRACE and Love for you.

        2. Strive to be as close to a likeness of Him as you can be.

        3. AND  He will give you strength to make Amends and offer “F” that Principle # 6 speaks about.

        4. OK Now -   How do we receive God’s gift of grace?

 

 

    1. That’s the “R” in our acrostic:  “RECEIVE”

      1. RECEIVED  “ONLY” BY  OUR FAITH

      2. Only by professing our Faith in JC as Lord &Savior can we experience His grace and eternal life

        1. Support for this comes from Ephesians 2:8-9 “  For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.”

        2. Philippians 3:9 is another  supporting verse:  “No longer counting on being saved by being good enough or by obeying God’s laws, abut by trusting Christ to save me; for God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith – counting on Christ alone.”

      3. You and I tend to be more interested in what we do.  God is more interested in who we are.

      4. REMEMBER   Your walk needs to match your talk.    Others see our actions – most notably of course is when we forgive others (apply Grace)

 

    1. Next letter in our acrostic is “A”   We are ACCEPTED by God’s love.

      1. Probably one of the most difficult things for CR folks to accept is that in the midst of our sinning, and addictive behavior – God still loves us – He’s crazy about us.

      2. Romans 5:8  “God demonstrates his own love for us in this:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

      3. Do you see how this frees us to love others in their fallen state?  

        1. We CAN forgive others!  & we MUST forgive others! If we ever hope to be free ourselves.

        2. Colossians 3:13 makes the point here:  “Be gentle and ready to forgive; never hold grudges, Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.”

      4. If you are like most CR folks, you sometimes think that you don’t deserve God’s love – or His Grace.

        1. Good news is:  He accepts you in spite of yourself.  He sees all your failures and loves you anyway.  In other words:  On your worst day…

 

    1. Ok, let’s move on to the next letter: “C”   CHRIST paid the price

      1. Jesus died on cross so that all our sins, all our wrongs, are forgiven.

      2. He Paid the price – IN FULL – All Of It !!

        1. WHY?   ASK them “Why did God do this?”

          1. Answer:  loves us & is lonely for us

          2. Are you OK with being away from someone you love dearly?   Don’t you try to be near them whenever you can?

          3. Well, that not unlike God.  He wants us to be with him in eternity so he paid price

 

    1. Last letter in Grace is “E”  God’s grace is an EVERLASTING gift.

      1. Once you accept JC as savior & Lord, God’s gift of Grace is FOREVER. 

      2. Philippians 1:6 says:  “And I am sure that God who began the good work within you will keep right on helping you grow in his grace until his task within you is finally finished on that day when Jesus Christ returns.”

      3. II Thessalonians 2:6 makes it even clearer:  “  May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father encourage you and strengthen you in every good thing you do and say.  God loves you, and through his GRACE he gave you good hope and encouragement that continues FOREVER.”
         

  1. I’m going to Close the lesson with three things:  First a scripture verse that maybe you should all adopt as your own “Life Verse”. 

    1. First the Life Verse:  Found in I Peter 2: 9-10

      1. “For you have been chosen by God himself – you are a priest of the King, you are holy and pure, you are God’s very own – all this so that you may show to others how God called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.  Once you were less than nothing; now you are God’s own.  Once you knew very little of God’s kindness; now your very life has been changed by it.” 

    2. Second: Some “Thoughts On Grace”  (handout) 

    3. Third & finally, a VIDEO of the Hymn:  Amazing Grace. 

  1. Close with Prayer

  2. Dismiss to Open Share Groups

    1. Newcomers to room 302 with Ron Blough

Forgiveness

 

Lesson # 17:  FORGIVENESS

Forgiveness is a 5 step process:

Step 1:  “I was wrong – period”  (no comma)

Step 2:  “I don’t ever want to hurt you this way again.”

Step 3:  “These are the steps I am taking to keep from ever hurting you this way again.”
                (you can hold me accountable for these steps.)

Step 4:  Now you can say:  “I’m sorry”

Step 5:  “Will you forgive me?”

 

  1. Open with Slide on Forgiveness 5  steps (read it and come back to it later.)(OR  hand out 5 Keys cards  OR put it in the handout brochure for the night)

  2. Tonight’s Lesson is about Forgiveness.

    1. Comes out of Principle #6:

      1. “Evaluate all my relationships.  Offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me and make amends  for harm I’ve done to others…”

    2. Also relates to Steps #8 & #9:

      1. “8:  Make a list of all persons we have harmed and become willing to make amends to them all.”

      2. “9:  Make direct amends to such people whenever possible…”

  3. Now, last time we  talked about “Amends”, so I don’t have to repeat that lesson, BUT wanted to remind you that:

    1. AMENDS lesson dealt with 2 things:

        1. You considering Receiving “Forgiveness” for hurt we have caused others 

        2. AND Offering “Forgiveness ” to those who have hurt us.

    2. To do this we need to continue to evaluate all of our relationships in light of this issue of “Forgiveness”

  4. Tonight:  Talk about a FORCE that can Block, Stall, or even Destroy your recovery: 

    1. That is:  Your inability to ACCEPT and OFFER “Forgiveness”.

  5. Now then:  Most people agree that “Forgiveness is a wonderful/beautiful thing – right?

    1. Yes ,  that is until we have to “Forgive” someone who has hurt/offended us

  6. Do you know the significance of Sunday, August 2nd?  

    1.  It’s International Forgiveness Day

    2. Listen to what some famous (or infamous) people have to say about “F”:

       

      1. “F” means giving up all hope for a better past.”   Lilly Tomlin

      2. “F” does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.   Paul Bose

      3. You will know that “F” has begun when you recall those who hurt you and feel the power to wish them well.”  Lewis B. Smedes

      4. The weak can never “F”.  “F”ness is the attribute of the strong.    Gandhi

      5. To err is human to “F” is divine.  Alexander Pope

      6. He who cannot “F” breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass.  Anon.

      7. “A true friend is one who knows his own faults well enough to forgive us ours.”     (Anon.)

      8. “F” is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that crushes it.   Mark Twain

         

  7. We have all noticed  a lot of Jokes @ “F”. 

    1. But “F” is not something those of us in Recovery take lightly – Why is that?   B/C “F” is God’s prescription for the broken hearted.

    2. No matter how great the offense or abuses of our life story – along the path of healing lies “F”.

  8. OK, Everyone in this room knows that at the base (or root) of any compulsive or addictive behavior is PAIN – usually Buried Pain. 

    1. We also learned weeks ago that  pretending that the Pain isn’t there (or that it doesn’t bother you any more) will not solve your problems. 

      1. Jeremiah 6:14 reminds us:

        1. “You can’t heal a wound by saying it’s not there!”

    2. Honestly facing your past  AND Forgiving yourself & those who have hurt you is the only LASTING solution. 

    3. “F” Breaks the cycle.  

      1. It doesn’t settle all the questions of blame, justice, or fairness,  BUT it allows for healing.

 

 

  1. Tonight look at 3 kinds of “F”:

    1. 1st & most important :  “F” which is Extended from God to US. 

      1. HUGE Question here:   HAVE  YOU  ACCEPTED  GOD’S  “F” ? (pause for effect)

        1. Have you accepted Jesus’ work on the cross?

          1. By his death on the cross ALL our sins were “F”, paid in full.

        2. If you have not, then you are willfully hanging on to something that will ultimately kill you.

      2. JC exclaimed on cross:  DONE !!!  It is finished.    He wasn’t speaking (as some believe) about his life or his work here on earth. 

        1. He was talking about the penalty of sin for all mankind.  That it was over – DONE, finished.

      3. AND  how are our sins Forgiven?    Simply – through our faith in Him.

      4. John Baker said:   “if God wasn’t willing to forgive sin, heaven would be empty.

    2. 2nd kind of “F” is :   “F” which is extended from US to OTHERS.

      1. Another huge question:   “HAVE YOU FORGIVEN OTHERS WHO HAVE HURT YOU?”

      2. This is more of a process in our lives than the 1st type of “F” which is extended from God.

      3. Your WILL enters the picture here.   

        1. You Must let go of the pain of the past in order to be truly free.

      4. Indeed – “F” is all about “Letting Go” (either direction)

        1. Remember playing Tug Of War as a kid?

          1. As long as people on both sides were “tugging” you have a war. 

          2. You let go of your end of rope when you “F” others.

          3. No matter how hard they may tug on their end, if you released your end, the war is over  -  finished.   

          4. BUT,  as long as you hang onto that rope (un-forgiveness) you are  a prisoner of war.

      5. Think for a moment here:   Who is your anger ( or your un-forgiveness) hurting most?   It’s you.

        1. “F” allows you to become fully freed from your anger.

           

      6. Bible lot to say @ “F”:

        1. Rom 12:17   “Do not repay anyone evil for evil.  Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.  If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

          1. Causing an injury puts you below your enemy

          2. Avenging an injury makes you even with him.

          3. “F”  the one who injured you sets you above him.  MORE IMP.  “F” sets you free!!!

      7. By the way:  While we are on this 2nd type of “F” (forgiving others ) you may recall your list of  “Others To Forgive”.    Well, you may have forgotten about someone you may need to forgive:  God !  Yes, God.

        1. ASK:  Have you ever known someone who is angry w/God? ??   Have YOU ever been angry w/Him?     IF so, you need to remember a few things:

          1. First:  God’s very nature is marked by perfect holiness

          2. Then, remember that God is perfect in Love, Mercy, Grace

          3. AND finally, remember that He loves you so much that He gave you a free will.

            1. He didn’t want puppets

            2. He wants our love for him to be by our choice

          4. Harm that others did to you was a result of their free choice – not God’s will.

          5. Bottom line:  Understanding the idea of free will shows you that anger toward God is misplaced anger.

          6. I Peter 5:10 puts this in perspective for us:

            1. “…after you have borne these sufferings a very little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to share in his eternal splendor through Christ, will himself make you whole and secure and strong.”

 

  1. If you have been victim of sexual abuse, physical abuse, childhood neglect, or spousal abuse – I am truly sorry for your pain.   I hurt with you.
    1. NOW, this may be difficult for some of you, but you will not find the peace and freedom from those who have hurt you until you FORGIVE them.

      REMEMBER:  Forgiving them in no way excuses what they have done, BUT it will release you from the power they have over you.

      Someone once asked me:   “What do you do if a person does not accept our forgiveness?”  They might say:   “I didn’t ask for your forgiveness so I don’t need it…”    Well then all you can say is that regardless of whether or not they feel they need it or nor, you needed to do this for yourself – so that you could be rid of the bondage of un-forgiveness.   It’s less about them and more about you and your health.

       

    2. Third/final type of “F” is the need to FORGIVE  OURSELVES:

      1. Another HUGE question here:   HAVE YOU FORGIVEN YOURSELF?

        1. For a lot of people forgiving others, even God, and accepting God’s “F” may be EASIER than forgiving yourself.    You may feel that your past is too much to forgive.  (remember the cross each year in CR at Easter)

        2. OK,  This is what God wants to do w/darkness in your past:

          1. He says:  “Come, let’s talk this over!  Says the Lord;  no matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can take it out and make you as clean as freshly fallen snow.  Even if you are stained as red as crimson, I can make you white as wool!  If you will only let me help you.”    Isaiah 1: 18-19

          2. No matter how unlovable or worthless you may feel, God loves you!  On your worst day He’s crazy about you !     HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT YOURSELF does NOT change His love for you one bit !!!

 

  1. I have a question for you:  If God Himself can forgive you w/ultimate price of that Forgiveness being to sacrifice His own Son – How can you sit there and withhold Forgiveness from yourself  ???
    1. Forgiving yourself (NOT assigning blame to someone else) so you are off the hook.

      1. SIMPLY:  it is your acknowledgment that you are human like everyone else  AND that you are at the point in your recovery where you are able and ready to give yourself greater respect.

    2. It’s important to know that the first name on your List of those to whom you need to make AMENDS should be God  AND second should be yours.  WHY”???

      1. Answer found in Matt. 22:36-40:   Jesus asks the question here:

        1. “Which is the most important command…?   Jesus replied,  “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  The second most important is similar: Love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.” (this is not a bad thing !)

        2. DO you see it?  If we equate LOVE w/Forgiveness than it makes sense. 

      2. So, How can you love or forgive your neighbor, if you can’t love or forgive yourself? 

        1. People pick up on this too.   They notice if you don’t forgive yourself -  it makes them suspicious of whether you can truly forgive them.

    3. OK,  Next week:  We are going to work on the LIST of people you need to make AMENDS to.

    4. I agree w/Baker on this:  We MUST forgive ourselves before we can forgive others.    “F” is too big an issue to let it apply in one situation and not another. 

  

  1. NOW,  as you take the necessary steps of “F” we’ve outlined here tonight;  you will see that you are gradually letting go of Guilt – Shame. 
    1. You can accept that you may still fall down, but with your Savior’s help you can get up, brush yourself off, and try again.

    2. You can agree with God that you and God are working on you – together.

    3. You can admit that you are not perfect

    4. We can all say:  “I forgive myself because God has already forgiven me, and with His help, I can forgive others.”   (OK,, SAY IT WITH ME THIS TIME – ON SCREEN)

      1. When you forgive yourself you don’t change the past, but you sure do change the future.

         

         

Amends

Lesson 16: AMENDS    

  1. Tonight’s lesson is about Making  Amends

    1. Based on Principle #6

      1. Evaluate all my relationships.  Offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me and make amends for harm I’ve done to others, except when to do so would harm them or others.

    2. AND  Step # 8

      1. Make a list of all persons we have harmed and become willing to make amends to them all.

  2. You’ve heard me talk about the dangers of  “Isolation” in your recovery – danger sign leads to relapse

    1. Well,   Making Amends is the beginning of “the end of isolation” from others and from God

    2. Another way to say it is:  “Forgive me, as I learn to forgive others” !!

  3. Going to spend a good deal of time on this over next few weeks b/c so important.

 

OK,  To start off tonight – open up for some feedback from you. 

  1. Would anyone be willing to share how you have worked on Principle #6?    Specifically -  tell me what happened when you EITHER

    1. forgave someone who harmed you   OR 

    2. where you attempted to make amends for harm you did others

       

  2. SEGUE:   Forgiveness and making  Amends are powerful allies  on your road to recovery.

  3. Tonight going to see how to do the repair work on our relationships  AND  why it is so important.

 

 

  1. OK,  first things first:    by making Amends, you bring people back into your life that you may need there.  

    1. Now obviously there are some people you don’t want back in your life because they are harmful people (vexations to the spirit)  Not talking about those people.

    2. I’m talking about people who matter and who have potential to help you heal.

  2. Still, some of us BALK at making amends.

    1. May say:  “If God has  forgiven me – isn’t that enough?”   OR

    2. “Why should I drag up the past with all that nastiness and junk?”   OR

    3. “Making Amends doesn’t sound “NATURAL””

    4. WELL:  the answer to those objections is simple:

      1. Making amends is NOT so much about your PAST  as it is about your FUTURE. 

      2. Before you can have the healthy relationships you desire, 

        1. Need to clean house –

        2. Clean out guilt & shame & pain that caused many of your past relationships to fail .

    5. NOW – When you did your inventories,  you were asked to “Make a list” of persons we have harmed AND become WILLING to make amends.   “Willing” is operative word here.   

      1. Next week we will talk about actually going out and “FORGIVING” the people on your list that you need to forgive.

      2. But you can see from step #8 that you are only asked to BE WILLING

      3. LUKE 6:31 is our reference here:   It asks us in Luke to treat others the way we want to be treated ourselves.

        1. For some of you – very difficult – maybe deep hurts – abuse – etc.

        2. Sometimes people respond to this step by saying:  “Never !!”   “I will never forgive him or her for >>>>>”

        3. I fully understand these feelings – been there myself -  BUT,  these violations or painful wounds are also the root of dysfunction that brings many into the recovery program.

      4. For now;  if you are a person who has been abused physically/sexually  - listen to how CR  “RE-WORDS” Step 8

        1. “Make a list of all persons who have harmed us and become willing to seek God’s help in forgiving our perpetrators, as well as forgiving ourselves.  Realize we’ve also harmed others, and become willing to make amends to them.”

        2. Next week we will look closely at a tried and true method for seeking forgiveness and granting it.

  3. OK, now:  Let’s move on to the second part of Principle #6:  “make amends for harm I’ve done to others, except when to do so would harm them or others.”

    1. Matthew 5: 23-24 puts it all in perspective for us: 

      1. “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar.  First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.”

        1. This is a CALL  TO  ACTION in scripture

        2. God is calling us to “go back to the garden” (that is our life),  and pull out the dead weeds – dead weeds of our past broken relationships.

          1. WHY?  So we can clear the way for our new relationships to be planted and nurtured in healthy soil.

          2. THAT is why principle 6 is so important:

  4.    On your handout on right side is YOUR  Amends  List. 

    1. Take the time in your groups tonight to begin filling in this list. Do this BEFORE you come back to the Café time.

    2. Be open to God prompting you to add to this list when he brings someone to your heart.

    3. Remember:   all you are doing at this point is writing them down. 

  5. OK,  then,  on left side of your handout is tonight’s acrostic on AMENDS

  6. “A” in Amends stands for   ADMIT

    1. Admit what?  The “Hurt”  &  “Harm” !!

    2. We learned in principle #4 how important it is to OPEN UP to God and to others.

      1. Your feelings been bottled up far, far too long

      2. Resulted in messing up your relationships with others & God

    3. Yes, we need to face the (hurts, resentments, wrongs) others have caused in our lives  AND  those that YOU HAVE CAUSED to OTHERS.

    4. Holding on to resentments forms a BLOCKADE in your recovery  ALSO  Blocks God’s forgiveness in your life

      1. Luke 6:37 shows us:  “Do not judge others, and God will not judge you;  do not condemn others, and God will not condemn you;  Forgive others, and God will forgive you.”

  7.   “M” in AMENDS stands for :  “MAKE”  the list

    1. A while back we did the INVENTORY.   You can use this to help you with your list tonight.

    2. SPECIAL NOTE:  

      1. When writing down your list – don’t worry about the “how to’s” in actually making your Amends to these people. 

        1. Don’t ask questions like:  “How can I ever forgive my brother for what he did? “   OR   “How can I ever ask my Father for forgiveness?”

        2. Go ahead – put the person on your list anyway.  AND remember Luke 6:31  “treat others the way you want them to treat you.”

          1. NOTE:  it does NOT say: “treat others the way you want to be treated in general”   NO, it says “…the way you want THEM (be specific here) (expand on this:   Put “Father”, “Wife”, “Boss”, etc.) to treat you…”

  8. ALRIGHT NOW,   the “E” in AMENDS stands for  “ENCOURAGE one another”

    1. Someone said:  “encouragement is oxygen for the soul”

    2. So, before you go off to make amends OR ask forgiveness,   MEET with your Sponsor or Accountability Partner – someone you can trust to encourage you in this process. 

      1. ASK  them to help you check your MOTIVES for doing this.

      2. Hebrews 10:24 says: 

        1. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” 

        2. If you are asked to encourage – do so.  Be honored.

 

  1. The “N” in AMENDS  is the reason for making the amends in the first place -  stands for “NOT  for them”

    1. Need to remember when you approach someone to make amends:  Need to do it with HUMILITY & CARING.    Don’t go into it EXPECTING something back.

    2. You are making your amends – not for a reward, but for freedom from your Hurts, habits, and hang-ups.

    3. God loves us generously – even on our worst day – so we can try to do likewise

      1. Did you know that you can get addicted to BITTERNESS – RESENTMENT _ ANGER (me) – HATRED -  REVENGE ????????

      2. A life addicted to these things will kill you as surely as drugs or alcohol

      3. Will ALSO produce Depression, despair and discouragement in your life.

      4. An unforgiving heart will cause you more pain and misery & destruction than it will ever cause the person who hurt you.

  2. Let’s move on to the letter “D” in AMENDS.  Stands for  “DO it at the right time”

    1. This principle not only requires courage & willingness – also requires a careful sense of timing.

    2. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says:  “There is a right time for everything.”

      1. There is time to LET things happen  AND a time to MAKE things happen

      2. SO;   BEFORE you make amends,  PRAY about it.   Ask Jesus for His guidance AND His perfect timing.  

        1. You will know it when it comes.   Feel like holy ground.

    3. Principle 6 also says at the end:  “…except when to do so would harm others…”

      1. (ASK:  Can you think of examples where you could do harm by offering forgiveness and making amends?)

      2. Philippians 2:4 is our guide here:  “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

      3. Don’t wait until you “FEEL” like making amends  OR offering your forgiveness.

 

 

 

  1. OK  -  last letter is  “S” sands for  START living the promises of recovery .

    1. Promise is one of   TRUE  FREEDOM    & PEACE of mind & heart   -   you will find that SERENITY we pray about each week. 

      1. The result of that is: realizing God’s purpose for our lives that we may have long since lost sight of.

      2. God promises in Joel 2:25   “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten.”

 

 

.

Victory

Lesson # 15: VICTORY

  1. Tonight’s lesson based on Principle 5 and Steps 6 & 7

    1. Principle 5:  “Voluntarily submit to every change God wants to make in my life and humbly ask Him to remove my character defects.”

    2. Step 6“I am entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”

    3. Step 7:  “I humbly ask Him to remove all my shortcomings.”

       

  2. Tonight going to attempt to answer questionHow can I have VICTORY over my character defects?

  3. START with Word of God:  READ  James 1 (all of it)

  4. Get right into tonight’s acrostic :  VICTORY  (take out your handout)

  5. First letter “V” stands for VOLUNTARILY submit to every change God wants you to make in your life and humbly ask Him to remove your shortcomings.

    1. In Romans 12:1-2 it says we are to make an offering of our very selves to God:  “Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to his service and pleasing to him… Let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind…”

    2. Once you accepted Jesus as Lord & Savior you made one of the most important decisions of your life – turning your life over to God’s will.  

      1. Then you began to work on YOU.

      2. You made that INVENTORY

      3. You then came clean by admitting and confessing to yourself, to God and to another person all of your sins

        1. NOW for most of us that was the first time – perhaps – in our lives that we were able to take off the muddy glasses of DENIAL and finally look at ourselves with a clean & clear focus.

    1. Last week we saw that we were finally READY to have God remove all the defects of Character.

      1. You are at that place in your recovery where you say:   “I don’t want to live this way any more.   I want to get rid of my HHH.   But HOW do I do that?????”

      2. Good News:    You DON’T do it!!!

        1. Step 6 does not read:  “I am entirely ready to remove all of my defects of character.”     NO,  It says:  “I am entirely ready to have GOD remove all my defects of character.”

    2. OK, then, so how do you go about allowing God to do just that???

  6. START by going to the next letter in the acrostic – The letter “I”  which stands for: “IDENTIFY”.

    1. You will IDENTIFY which character defects you want God to work on first.

      1. Remember last week we learned that He/God is not going to make you work on everything all at once.  He may even wait a long time to work on some of the more minor things.  BUT  Has to start somewhere.

    2. SO:  Go back to your Inventory you filled out a while back:

      1. Look at the part where you filled in your Wrongs, shortcoming, and sins that you wrote down.

      2. As you look at these again, remember that “Falling down isn’t what makes you a failure – it’s staying down that makes you a failure.”

      3. God doesn’t just want you to admit your wrongs – No, He wants to make us right!!

        1. He wants to give us a future and a hope

        2. He doesn’t want to just forgive us – He wants to CHANGE us. 

    1. SO,  Ask God to first remove those Character Defects that are causing the most pain

      1. BE  SPECIFIC 

        1. Remember last week when we identified what some of those might be

          1. Poor self image / self hatred

          2. Lying to self – others

          3. Always making excuses for yourself / trying to justify your sin

          4. Selfishness / ego centric

          5. Self pity

          6. Playing games

          7. Controlling

          8. Lazy

          9. Resentment / un-forgiveness

          10. Etc.

        2. Proverbs 16:9 helps us here:  “ In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”   Awesome !

  7. OK,  let’s move on to next letter in acrostic:   “C”   which stands for CHANGE your mind.

    1. II Corinthians 5:17 tells us that when you become a Christian, you are a new creation – a brand new person inside. The old nature is gone. 

      1. ASK:  Do you ever feel like that doesn’t describe you?  That you still have plenty of the “old person” left inside.  OR worse – that the “old nature” is in fact NOT gone but rather very much present and alive and living in and through you? 

      2. WELL,   those changes that are going to take place WILL BE the result of a TEAM EFFORT!

        1. Your responsibility is to take the initiative (action) to follow God’s direction for change

        2. God then comes in and does His part by transforming you (changing you) by the renewing of your mind. 

      3. Let’s look at Romans 12:2 for more direction here:  “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

        1. Clear?   OR  Clear as mud? 

    1. We need to let God pull them out by the roots – often hurts, but results are worth it.   We need to let Him “transform our minds

      1. Remember the God’s Chisel video here.

    2. Just changing our behavior is like just mowing down the weeds in our garden. Instead of plucking them out by the roots. 

    3. God wants to change more than just our behavior – He wants to change the way we THINK (“…by the renewing of our minds” as Romans says)

      1. OK then, God says “…by the renewing of our minds, But, HOW do we renew our minds? (The answer in a moment,#7 below.)

    4. OK, to “Transform” something means to change its condition, its nature, its function, and its identity. 

      1. ASK:  How do you think YOU do this?

  8. OK, to answer the “HOW?” question we need to look at the next letter “T” in our VICTORY acrostic = TURN

    1. We need to TURN our character defects over to Jesus

    2. Relying on your own willpower has blocked your recovery

    3. Your past efforts to change your HHH have been unsuccessful

    4. BUT    James 4:10 tells us :  “…if you humble yourselves before the Lord he will lift you up…”:

      1. This idea of humility is not a Bad Word.

      2. Doesn’t mean you are weak

      3. Baker quote:  “Humility is like underwear – we should have it but shouldn’t let it show.”

      4. Humility is seeing ourselves as God sees us

    5. You can’t proceed in your recovery until you turn your defects of character over to Jesus.  

      1. Let go  -  Let God 

  9. The next letter is “O”   ONE day at a time

    1. Idea here is to be REASONABLE in your expectations for change

      1. Didn’t develop your Character Defects overnight, so don’t expect instant change.

      2. Recovery happens One Day At A Time

      3. Jesus provides our guidance here:   In Matthew 6:34  he said:  “So don’t be anxious about tomorrow, God will take care of your tomorrow too.  Live one day at a time.”

      4. When you start to regret past OR fear the future remember Exodus 3:14: where God tells us that His name is  “I  Am.”

        1. Good illustration to read:   unknown author (taken from a sermon):  “God tells me that when I live in the past with its mistakes and regrets, life is hard.  I can take God back there to heal me, to forgive me, to forgive my sins.  But God does not say, “My name is “I was.””  God says, “My name is “I am.”” When I try to live in the future, with its unknown problems and fears, life is hard.  I know God will be with me when that day comes.  But God does not say “My name is “I will be.””  He says,  “My name is “I am.””  When I live in today, this moment, one day at a time, life is not hard.  God says,  “I am here.”  “Come to me, all of you who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest.” 

  10. Let’s look at the letter “R” in VICTORY.  Stands for RECOVERY is a process.  One day at a time AFTER one day at a time.

    1. Once you asked God to remove your character defects you began a journey.

    2. That journey WILL lead you to new freedom from your past.

    3. Don’t look for perfection, INSTEAD, rejoice in steady progress.

      1. A good term here is to seek:  “patient improvement”

    4. Hear these words of encouragement from Word of God found in Philippians 1:6:

      1. And I am sure that God who began a good work within you will keep right on helping you grow in his grace until his task within you is finally finished on that day when Jesus Christ returns.”

  11. The last letter in victory is “Y”   Stands for YOU.   YOU must choose to change.

    1. Not your mother/father, spouse, but YOU.   Even God won’t do it for you.  You have to CHOOSE.

      1. You must voluntarily submit to every change God wants you to make in your life.

      2. All you need to do is to humbly ask him .  He is waiting to do it.

    2. James 4:6-8  sets this up for you:  “God gives strength to the humble… so give yourselves humbly to God.  Resist the devil and he will flee from you.  And when you draw close to God, God will draw close to you.”

NOTE:  Satan will hang around you if your falter in your resistance !) so don’t hesitate to RESIST – get to it

 

PRAYER: 

                “Dear God, show us your will in working through our shortcomings.
                Help us not to resist the changes that you have planned for us.
                We need you to direct our steps
                Help us stay in “today”, and not get dragged back in the past or lost in the fear of the future
                We ask you to give  us the power and the wisdom to make the very best we can out of today.
                In Jesus name we pray, Amen

 

Ready

 

Lesson # 14: READY

 

  1. Tonight’s  lesson based on Principle 5 & Step 6:

    1. Principle 5:  “I voluntarily submit to every change God wants to make in my life and ask Him to remove my character defects.

    2. Step 6:  “I am entirely READY to have God remove all these defects of character.”

  2. Congratulations !!!

    1. IF  You’ve made it to this point it means you’ve been working through all the steps and principles so far:  ASK:  Do you know what it means to “work” the steps?

        1. “The steps only work when you work the steps!”

      1. Admitted you have a problem

      2. Admitted you are powerless over it on your own

      3. Come to believe that God could & will help you

      4. Seek Him and turn your life & will over to His care & control

      5. (more recently) Wrote a “Spiritual Inventory” & shared that with God and another person

    2. Whew!   Lot of work

      1. May be thinking:   “this is tough – time for a breather, rest” – Right?   WELL, think again !!!

  3. In most “recovery programs”  this step (# 6) is referred to as the step that “Separates the men from the boys”! 

    1. ADD:  Whatever the female equivalent is?   (Women form girls?) 

    2. SO  TONIGHT    going to answer the question:  

      1. “WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE ENTIRELY READY ? “

  4. Ok,   Lets look at Principle 5 again (on your handout)  and see why this might separate the Men from boys (women from girls)

    1. “Voluntarily submit to every change God wants to make in my life and humbly ask Him to remove my character defects.”

 

 

    1. OK, then,  ASK:  What parts of this are so difficult?

      1. Is it the “voluntary” piece?

      2. Or the “Submit” idea?

      3. Maybe it’s the realization that if you DO ask God to “remove” character defects – He will actually do it.

    2. ANSWER is in “Step 6” where it says “WE  ARE  READY”  to submit.   ARE  YOU  READY?    DO  YOU  FEEL  READY ???

  1. Alright Now .   Let’s be honest here.   ASK:  Wouldn’t you be willing to have some of your “Character Defects”  just GO AWAY?    I know I would !   

    1. Been working on some my entire adult life.

    2. Some just hang in there don’t they? – very hard to give up  (PAUSE   FOR  EFFECT)  Stare at them.  (I SAID:  Repeat “some…”)

    3. I can tell from the blank looks on your faces that you have no idea what I’m talking about – DO  YOU?

    4. When I say “Character Defects”   I am NOT talking about your HHH or your Addiction.    I’m talking about the character defects that GO ALONG with it. OR  that may have been at least partly responsible for your vulnerability in the first place.

    5. ASK:   anyone brave enough to guess what I’m talking about here??    What kind of Character Defects could I possibly be referring to?

      1. BRAINSTORM here:

      2. Some of us are getting a little uncomfortable now.  Starting to realize why this gets difficult here.

  2. OK,  Let me be a bit more transparent

    1. My Anger issues were (are) never simply in isolation. 

    2. They are not triggered out of thin air

    3. SAME is true for the alcoholic or the co-dependent, or the one struggling with release from a great pain.

      1. For all of us there comes a time of CLARITY – right?

      2. For Some – it’s when we hit bottom – say we are ready to stop the destructive patterns

 

BUT,  are we truly ready at that point? 

  1. SURE, we want drinking, pain, anger to stop,   BUT   are we ready to ALSO:
    1. Stop being narcissistic and self absorbed

    2. Stop being selfish & Lazy

    3. Stop the arrogance & control

    4. Stop the self pity party

    5. Stop manipulating people around us

    6. Stop playing games w/ourselves

    7. Let go of resentments

    8. Stop lying

    9. You see – these are the Character Defects that were (at least in part)  responsible for setting me up for my fall. 

      1. Like weeds – keep rising up and choking off any sincere efforts to change / heal.  These defects have roots.

    10. We’ve formed these defects for years – it’s the “STUFF” we carry around like baggage that weighs us down

      1. Tonight,   going to see that You & God – together – are going after this “STUFF” – together.     ALL  of it!  Because it’s this “STUFF” that results in our brokenness and feeling like we can’t go on – that we don’t have the strength to let God reshape us and finally rid us of our Character Defects.

 

            Segue: ASK:  How many of us have ever felt that we’ve messed up so many times that God wouldn’t possibly Forgive/ Accept / Love,  us?    Do you remember from the Video  we watched a few weeks ago  (God’s Chisel,)  that Tommy was finally READY?   

ARE YOU READY ???

    1. First letter “R” stands for Release control

      1. God is courteous & patient.   He will wait for you – till you are “Ready”  to give Him control

      2. Notice that the Step 6 here says that you are “Entirely Ready” to release control… OF  EVERY AREA OF YOUR LIFE.

        1. He won’t force himself on you – he won’t come in and clean up an area UNLESS you are willing to ask Him in.

      3. Psalm 143:10 sets this idea:  “Help me to do your will, for you are my God.  Lead me in good paths, for your Spirit is good.”

    2. The “E” stands for:  EASY does it.   

      1. These Steps & Principles are not “quick fixes”    Must allow time for God to do His work in you.

      2. Remember !!  The idea here is NOT JUST to get you to stop doing wrong / to stop sinning.

        1. The sin is only the symptom of the character defect.

          1. Let Me Explain:  the Sin is like the weed in a garden – it will keep reappearing unless it is pulled out by the root.

            1. The Root:  is the actual character defect that CAUSES the sin.

            2. In case of alcoholic:  The Act of Sin is abusing the alcohol,  while the defect of character may be something like:

              1. Poor self-image or even “self-loathing”

              2. OR  Bent toward fulfilling selfish desire / hedonism

              3. OR  Deceitful  habits  of  covering up some truth about ourselves,  or a Lying Spirit.

              4. Etc.  Remember Tommy in Video?

        2. So, what are we to do?   WE GO  AFTER  THE  DEFECT !!!   Not the sin.

          1. That takes Time – But God WILL do it.  He promised !  in Psalm 37:5   “Commit everything you do to the Lord.  Trust him to help you do it and he will…”
             

            1.  Next Letter is “A” :   ACCEPT  the change:

              1. OK,  Seeing the need for change   &  allowing the change to occur are two different things.

              2. The space between these two things can be enormous  AND filled w/Fear

              3. WE must be READY to accept God’s help during that transition from seeing the need & allowing the change.

                1. Bible is clear on this:  I Peter 1:13  “So then, have your minds READY for action.  Keep alert and set your hope completely on the blessing  which will be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.  Be obedient to God, and do not allow your lives to be shaped by those desire you had when you were still ignorant.”  ASK:  “Are You Still Ignorant ???”

              4. Remember:  all the steps you have taken so far on your journey of recovery have been building up to the “Ultimate Surrender”  found in tonight’s principle.

              5. James 4:10 states:  “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up…”

                1. AHH -  Humility !!

                  1. You are going to see this subject of “Humility” over and over again. 

                    1. It’s all through the “12 Steps”

                    2. The subject of “humility” or being humble etc. is mentioned 72 times in scripture.  This is important to God because it is completely necessary in order for “True Repentance” to be believed.

                      1. Like a 3 legged stool..

                        1. Humility, Brokenness, Repentance

                        2. Without all 3 the stool will not stand, cannot hold us up..

            2. Moving on to next letter:  “D”:  DO  REPLACE your character defects

              1. OK,  you know that for some of you – you have been spending years building up your HHH – addictions.  (actually your character defects).

                1. When God helps you by removing one; you MUST replace it (character defect) with something positive in your life  OR the likelihood is that you will fall back into the HHH / sin.

                  1. Replace it w/ CR Program meetings, Church attendance/involvement, volunteering, Toy Share,  Spiritual Disciplines, etc.

                  2. REMEMBER:  “…can’t get rid of old habit…”

                  3. Listen to Matthew 12:43 – 42 here:  “When an evil spirit goes out of a person, it travels over dry country looking for a place to rest.  If it can’t find one, it says to itself, “I will go back to my house.” So it goes back and finds the house empty,…then it goes out and brings along seven other spirits even worse than itself, and they come to live there.”

                    1. Wow.   Sobering thought isn’t it?

                  4. You’ve heard me say that one of the character defects for me as a result of my abuse was a devastated self-esteem. 

                    1. I looked for self esteem in drugs, alcohol, trying to “fit in”, and when those didn’t work my self esteem took a nose dive.   I then turned to Anger (which was in reality my true expression of my insecurities AND as a way to drown out my pain.)

                    2. It wasn’t until I found relief through counseling and recovery that my life started to come back together. 

                    3. TO  THIS  DAY.  If I do not constantly work at REPLACING my character defects with positive substitutes – I can easily fall back to my old ways.

            3. Last Letter is “Y”   YIELD to the growth.

              1. What is the opposite of “Yielding to the growth”?    

                    1. ANSWER:  Self Doubt, Refusing Growth, Stagnation

                1. Self Doubt breeds poor self image.

                  1. What will a poor self image tell you? 

                    1. ANSWER:  You are not worthy of becoming the person God intends for you to become.

                  2. Don’t believe it.   Lie from pit of hell.    YIELD to the growth.  It is the HS work in you.

              2. I John 3:9  sets this in stone:  “The person who has been born into God’s family does not make a practice of sinning, because now God’s life is in him;  so he can’t keep on sinning., for this new life has been born into him and now controls him – he has been born again.”

                 

  1. QUESTION IS:  Are you entirely ready to voluntarily submit to any and all changes God wants to make in your life? – to literally allow HIM to get rid of the “STUFF” you’ve been carrying around

    1. If you are, then read the verses found in last weeks handout;  and pray the following prayer:

      1. “Dear God,  thank you for taking me this far in my recovery journey.

      2. Now I pray for your help in making me entirely ready to change all my character defects.

      3. Give me strength to face the truth of who I am including my faults which I turn over to you.

      4. Help me to ACCEPT all the changes that you want to make in me. 

      5. Help me be the person that you want me to be .  In Jesus’ name;;     Amen

         

  2.  

    1.  

Admit

Lesson # 13: Admit

  • OK,  tonight’s lesson based on Principle 4 & Step 5:

    1. Principle 4“Openly examine and confess my faults to myself, to God, and to someone I trust.”

    2. Step 5:  “Admit to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of my wrongs.”

      • Which of course is taken from James 5:16:  “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”

  • You remember Last Week we started this idea with the lesson on “CONFESSION” .  Confession & Admission go hand in hand.  Tonight we will expand on what we started in our previous lesson.

  • ASK:   Can anyone tell me what Romans 6:23 says ???   (Answer:  “Wages of sin is death – but gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”)

    1. ASK:  What does that mean to you?

      • Answer:   If you work hard for sin your whole life, then your reward will surely be DEATH.  But life God’s way is REAL LIFE, and pension is eternal life BUT only through JC.

    2. OK, let’s play w/this “wages” metaphor a bit:

      • So – there is a “wage” or “earning” for SIN in our lives.

        • Well it’s also NOT JUST a cut & dried where (X) sin = (Y) wage.   NO, there is almost always a Tax on your investment as well as a change in the rate.  

          • You see- the devil is like a “loan shark”   He keeps raising the stakes.  Until you are trapped beyond your ability to ever repay.

        • BY THE WAY:  (aside)  If the wages of sin is death, shouldn’t you quit before payday?

  • Let’s get serious here:    POINT of Romans 6:23 here  (in relation to our lesson on Admitting our sins to one another)  is this:   There is a consequence for our Sins  AND  we keep those “sins” a secret whenever possible.

    1. To use the “wage metaphor”  we keep the “sin earnings” UNREPORTED.   And the consequences eventually catch up with us.

    2. The more secrets we keep – the more the Loan Shark has over our heads.

 

  • So   “Why  Do  I  Have  To  ADMIT  My  Wrongs to another??”

    1. Because:  Keeping those sins secret all our lives TAKES A TOLL on us.

      • The Toll =  Loss of self-respect / energy / bondage to old codependent habits.

      • ADMITTING those secrets – out loud  -  strips them of the power they have over us.  Just speaking them will dilute their power.

    2. STILL – we are afraid to reveal our secrets to another person – even someone we trust.   ASK:   WHY?

      • (let them brainstorm on this)

      • Answer:  Betrayal  /  harm – used against us / rejected / ostracized / avoided / hated / never trusted again / etc.

  • OK,  Tonight I want you to hear TRUTH.    I want you to know what you really have to lose by admitting your wrongs:   (take out your bulletins)

    1. First, We lose our sense of isolation.  

      • Remember the story about the little girl in the well?    When you admit your wrongs to another person you invite someone down in that well – right alongside of you.   

      • The result is that feeling of isolation begins to vanish

    2. Second,  We will begin to lose our unwillingness to forgive.  

      • WOW, that’s a mouthful.   When people accept and forgive us, we start to see that we can forgive others.   (The Lord’s Prayer)

    3. Third,  We will lose our inflated, false pride. 

      • AS we see and accept who we are, we begin to gain true humility, which involves seeing ourselves as we really are and seeing God as He really is.

    4. Fourth & Final,  We will lose our sense of Denial. 

      • It’s easy to see that being TRUTHFUL with another person will tear away at our denial.

      • Results in us feeling clean and honest.

 

  • OK, those were the 4 “things you have to “LOSE” when you admit your wrongs to another person.     NOW,  lets look at 3 “Things you have to GAIN”.

 

 

  1. We gain the HEALING that the Bible promises.  

    1. Look at James 5:16 again:  “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be HEALED.”

    2. Obvious key word = “Healed”

    3. NOTICE it does NOT say:  “Confess your sins to one another and you will be “forgiven”.

      1. No, God already Forgave you when you confessed your sins to HIM. 

      2. HE says:  You will begin the “Healing Process” when you confess your sins to another.  WOW!!   Powerful promise!

  2. OK, the 2nd thing we “gain” is FREEDOM.

    1. Our secrets have kept us in CHAINS  -  bound  -  frozen, unable to move forward in any of our relationships – with God OR others.

    2. Admitting our sins “Snaps” those chains so God can get about His business of Healing

      1. Psalm 107:13-14   “They cried to the Lord in their troubles, and he rescued them!  He led them from the darkness and the shadow of death and “SNAPPED” their chains. “

    3. Word of Caution (However)   Unconfessed Sin will Fester.  In Psalm 32:3-4  David tells us what happened to him when he tried to hide his sins:  “When I did not confess my sins, I was worn out from crying all day long…My strength was completely drained.”  

      1. Openness is to wholeness (or being healthy)  AS  Secrets are to sickness.

      2. Remember that the only sin God can NOT forgive is the one you don’t confess.

  3. Now – the 3rd thing we gain from admitting your wrongs to another is:  You gain SUPPORT.

    1. Think about it – when someone else sees your inventory they are more likely to support you

      1. They can keep you focused  & provide feedback.

      2. When denial creeps in and you do the unhealthy “self talk”,  that’s when you need someone whom you have confided in to challenge you with the TRUTH

    2. But most of all – the value of just having someone listen to you and hear what you have to say is priceless. 

ALRIGHT NOW:    HOW DO YOU CHOOSE SOMEONE TO TELL YOUR SECRETS TO???

  • Unlike little Jessica in the well – you get to CHOOSE the person who comes down in your well with you.

  • So choose well. 

    • Don’t want someone to say:  “ You did WHAT ?”    or  “You shouldn’t have done that you know…”

    • You are not looking for a Judge or a Jury

      • We already talked about the Verdict:  Romans 3:23 says “all have sinned and you have been found “not guilty” by virtue of association with JC.   In  1st John 1:9  “If we confess our sins , he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us…”

  • OK, so what you need is a good “Listener”

    • Better if they are a growing Christian

    • Better if they are familiar with 12 steps or 8 principles.  (If not – make them familiar)

  • Same sex – that you trust and respect

  • Can be your Sponsor OR Accountability Partner  (You do have one don’t you?) 

    • If they are a person who has had similar experiences it can result in healthy  exchange.

  • Set an appointment with the person – without interruptions

    • No phones, no kids,

    • Give it plenty of time. 

ACTUAL GUIDELINES FOR YOUR MEETING (where you will begin to ADMIT):

  1. Start w/Prayer

    1. Pray for courage / humility / honesty (complete honesty) /

  2. Read the scripture verses (provided  in Bulletin insert)

  3. Keep your sharing balanced between  -  weaknesses  & Strengths!

  4. End in Prayer.  Thank God for the tools He has given you  AND for the complete FORGIVENESS found in Christ.

VIDEO:   Skit Guys:  “Completely” by Among The Thirsty  (on you tube also)  3.5 minutes

  1. PRAY:   Dismiss to groups:  Newcomers to room with:__________________