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07/09/16

Permalink 08:57:48 pm, Step(s): 09 Making Amends, 151 words   English (US)

Reconciliation

"Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer each one." (Colossians 4:5,6 )

It seems to me that there are at least three ways in which I need to be reconciled in the process making amends.

First, I need to be reconciled to God. Without this, I have little reason to pursue recovery. Without Him, I am powerless to do any good thing (John 5:30 ) (John 15:4,5 ). And because "I can do all things in him that strengtheneth me." (Philippians 4:13 )

Second, part of what being reconciled to God means, is to actually do what He says (John 14:15 ). And one thing that He says is "If therefore thou art offering thy gift at the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee, leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way, first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift." (Matthew 5:23,24 ). So, whenever possible and appropriate, I need to make amends to those whom I have offended -- with the hope of reconciling that broken relationship, where appropriate and when the other person is willing.

"If it be possible, as much as in you lieth, be at peace with all men." (Romans 12:18 )

Third, knowing that I have done all that I can do to reconcile myself to God and with others, I can then have the peace that comes from reconciling myself with my own conscience. "And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:7 )

"Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others." (Step 9)

06/24/16

Permalink 08:06:41 am, Step(s): 08 Make a list..., 306 words   English (US)

Amends and Forgiveness

Early in my recovery process, God laid on my heart many situations for which I needed to make amends. Even though it was a very painful process to go through, I felt much better about myself for making the list and following through with the amends. Since that time I have continued to take personal inventory, and when I was wrong, promptly (well, usually I've been prompt :-) admitted it -- once I recognized my mistake.

But when it's me that has been wronged, am I able to see whether or not I have anything to make amends for in that situation? I think that sometimes I may be unable to see my own mistakes through the pain that I suffer as a result of other people's words and/or actions. This may be where forgiveness comes into play. I doubt whether I can truly make amends in the case where I have not forgiven that person for what they have done to wound me.

"forbearing one another, and forgiving each other, if any man have a complaint against any; even as the Lord forgave you, so also do ye:" (Colossians 3:13 )

There could be other times when I am over-sensitive to my actions and may choose to make amends when no amends are needed. This is less-likely, but I need to be careful to seek, and to stay in, God's will.

I'm coming to believe that forgiving doesn't mean excusing or forgetting the wrong. And it doesn't mean a removal of consequences. But it does mean a change of attitude on my part. It means that I begin to wish the offender well. It means that I pray that my offender may find healing through recovery, so that they may find the peace and joy that I am finding in the Lord. It means that I want to see my offender as an erring child of God, such as I. It means... that I am becoming willing to make amends.

"For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you." (Matthew 6:14 )

"Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all." (Step 8)

06/17/16

Permalink 09:13:26 am, Step(s): 07 Purification, 276 words   English (US)

Humble Submission to God

"Now, no discipline is pleasant, but God's discipline is for my own good, so that I may be a partaker of His holiness, thereby bearing the peaceful fruit of righteousness." (Hebrews 12:1-11 -- paraphrased by Sid).

"Since so many have gone before me, participating in the life-changing experience of recovery in the Lord, it behooves me to learn how to lay my issues at the foot of the cross, and look to Jesus for my deliverance.

When I think of Jesus, I see a man who endured much harder trials and temptations than I ever have. He endured all this hardship for the joy of knowing that as a result of His sacrifice, I would have the opportunity for an eternal life of peace and happiness with Him. When tempted to think that I have it bad, I remind myself that I have never resisted temptation to the degree of sweating great drops of blood, as did Jesus.

Neither should I despise the discipline of God, because He does it out of His infinitely pure love for me. As I am teachable in this discipline, God deals with me as His child. But if I refuse His discipline, I become more like a bastard than a child of God.

My earthly parents disciplined me according to their limited understanding, and out of their dysfunctional past, and maybe even for their own pleasure, yet I gave them respect and learned from them. How much more then should I respect and honor the infinitely wise Creator God who loves me so much that He gave His only Son to die for me that I may have life eternal?

"Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings." (Step 7)

05/20/16

Permalink 08:29:55 am, Step(s): 06 Repentance, 157 words   English (US)

Yielded to His Power

"What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. We who died to sin, how shall we any longer live therein? Or are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him through baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with him by the likeness of his death, we shall be also by the likeness of his resurrection; knowing this, that our old man was crucified with him, that the body of sin might be done away, that so we should no longer be in bondage to sin; for he that hath died is justified from sin." (Romans 6:1-7 )

So, I have to ask myself, "Is my 'old man' crucified with Christ?" Repentance calls us to full consecration to God and His leading because "half measures availed us nothing" (Alcoholics Anonymous p. 59). Andrew Murray described this commitment as the key to a Spirit-filled life, when he said, "Being filled with the Holy Spirit is simply this -- having my whole nature yielded to His power. When the whole soul is yielded to the Holy Spirit, God Himself will fill it." (Absolute Surrender p. 12)

Isn't it time "that ye put away, as concerning your former manner of life, the old man, which waxeth corrupt after the lusts of deceit; and that ye be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new man, which after God hath been created in righteousness and holiness of truth." (Ephesians 4:22-24 ). Of course, to let go of those old dependencies is easier said than done. But, as I consider the way God has stepped in to help me whenever I surrender to Him in the moment of temptation, I continue to move forward in faith, trusting that He will never ask me to do anything that He will not provide a way for me to accomplish. (1 Cor 10:13 )

"Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character." (Step 6)

05/13/16

Permalink 09:25:45 am, Step(s): 05 Confession, 187 words   English (US)

What Went Wrong?

One of the facets of fifth-step confession is the acknowledgment of what went wrong in our family of origin, as well as in our parent's families of origin. There is something about family dysfunction that tends to repeat itself, when we don't acknowledge those problems. Stuffing the garbage of our past by trying to forget it does not bring us healing. It only sets us up to repeat the sins of our ancestors.

"...visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation..." (Exodus 20:5 ).

But when we admit our family sins to ourselves, to God, and to another human being, those sins lose a lot of the power that they once held over us. This must be why James said, "Confess therefore your sins one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The supplication of a righteous man availeth much in its working." (James 5:16 )

This facet of confession has helped me to recognize the unfulfilled love-hungers of my childhood as part of the reason why I sought love in all the wrong ways for many wasted years of my life. Today, I realize that confession is a God-given tool to help me release my past sins and move on to a better, more fulfilling future.

"Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs." (Step 5)

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