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.