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04/01/16

Permalink 08:47:27 am, Step(s): 12 Ministry and Practice, 165 words   English (US)

The Best Part

Because of the pain we face, many of us enter into the process of recovery to find victory over those sins that most easily beset us, and this is good. But what we discover, as we get deeper into the recovery (sanctification) process, is that we are having a profound spiritual awakening, and this is the best part.

After the difficult work of becoming more honest, learning to trust more, and consecrating ourselves to God, we can now begin to rejoice with the Psalmist, for "IT IS A GOOD THING TO GIVE THANKS UNTO THE LORD, AND TO SING PRAISES UNTO THY NAME, O MOST HIGH:" (Psalm 92:1 ). Our joy becomes unrestrained, for we desire "To shew forth thy lovingkindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night, For thou, LORD, hast made me glad through thy work: I will triumph in the works of thy hands." (Psalm 92:2,4 ). "Sing unto the LORD, bless his name; shew forth his salvation from day to day." (Psalm 96:2 ).

More and more, as I practice these principles of sanctification in all areas of my life, I find not only healing for myself but healing in those around me as well. My relationships with God and with people continue to improve. No, these relationships are not perfect, but as I grow, by the grace and power of God, I rejoice in the increasing peace and happiness I find.

"This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting. Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen." (1 Timothy 1:15-17 )

"Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs." (Step 12)

03/25/16

Permalink 08:48:47 am, Step(s): 12 Ministry and Practice, 269 words   English (US)

Progressive Perceptions of God

"For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee." (Isaiah 54:10 )

When we begin on our road to recovery, we may have some serious reservations about God, often because of people in authority who have let us down, or even abused us. They may have even been people who should have been Godly examples to us. And so it becomes easy to see God in the same light. But as we progress through the recovery process and begin to experience positive results, the God of our understanding gradually changes. We come to know and love Him as the God of infinite love and compassion.

Instead of dwelling on questions like, "Why did God allow these bad things to happen to me?" we become thankful that He is always present with us, especially when bad things happen, protecting us from even worse things, and holding us in His arms of loving kindness. We begin to dwell more on questions like, "How could God love me so much that He would risk His eternal life by dying on a cruel cross to save a wretch like me?" Instead of seeing God as a tyrant, through those who have abused us, we begin to see Him more as the God who loves us with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3 ), who will never leave us, nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5 ). We begin to see Him as the one who will ultimately take us out of this world of sin and death, and give us eternal life with him.

"The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee." (Jeremiah 31:3 ). "For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee." (Isaiah 54:10 ). "In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not: and to Zion, Let not thine hands be slack. The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing." (Zephaniah 3:16-17 )

With a God like this, why wouldn't we want to pursue recovery? Why wouldn't we want to share this Good News with others?

"Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs." (Step 12)

12/31/15

Permalink 10:53:32 pm, Step(s): 12 Ministry and Practice, 183 words   English (US)

Share the Power

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith." (Romans 1:16,17 )

When we experience the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the resultant growth through recovery/sanctification, we cannot resist the conviction to share our experience and to continue to choose to practice the principles we've learned. This is not only my desire, but the desire of every Christian who enters into the process of sanctification.

The Christian 12-Step program is just one of many models used to help us understand this process and to engage with it. 12-Step is not just for addicts. It is for all sinners, who feel their need of a Savior. It is for those who are able to recognize their weaknesses and long to experience the power of God to turn their weaknesses into strengths.

There will never be a better time to experience the grace and the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ -- not only of being forgiven through grace, but also in experiencing the power to become more and more like Jesus. Our Christian 12-Step fellowship can help facilitate your transformation. We'd love to have you join us this Saturday morning.

"Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs." (Step 12)

10/23/15

Permalink 08:00:10 am, Step(s): 12 Ministry and Practice, 948 words   English (US)

Character Development

"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever." (Ps. 111:10 )

I am quoting heavily today from an address delivered to the teachers and students of Battle Creek College on November 15, 1883 by Mrs. E. G. White. It was published in the Review and Herald in 2 parts on August 19 & 26, 1884. You may read it in it's entirety here. All of today's quotes can be found there.

Probably the most significant result of practicing the principles learned in the Christian 12-Step process, is the development of a Christ-like character. And, for me, that is of the utmost priority because it is my understanding that my character is the only thing I can take to heaven. Steps 10, 11, and 12 summarize what it takes to continue that character development process.

"Character cannot be bought; it must be formed by stern efforts to resist temptation. The formation of a right character is the work of a lifetime, and is the outgrowth of prayerful meditation united with a grand purpose. The excellence of character that you possess must be the result of your own effort. Friends may encourage you, but they cannot do the work for you. Wishing, sighing, dreaming, will never make you great or good. You must climb. Gird up the loins of your mind, and go to work with all the strong powers of your will. It is the wise improvement of your opportunities, the cultivation of your God-given talents, that will make you men and women that can be approved of God, and a blessing to society. Let your standard be high, and with indomitable energy, make the most of your talents and opportunities, and press to the mark."

"True liberty and independence are found in the service of God. His service will place upon you no restriction that will not increase your happiness. In complying with his requirements, you will find a peace, contentment, and enjoyment that you can never have in the path of wild license and sin. Then study well the nature of the liberty you desire. Is it the liberty of the sons of God, to be free in Christ Jesus? or do you call the selfish indulgence of base passions freedom? Such liberty carries with it the heaviest remorse; it is the cruelest bondage."

Having been on both sides of this 'fence', I can testify that this is true. Before recovery, I was indeed subject to the cruelest bondage of satan. But in recovery, I have begun to enjoy the freedom that only can be found in Christ.

"Stand up for Jesus, young friends, and in your time of need Jesus will stand up for you. "By their fruits ye shall know them." Either God or Satan controls the mind; and the life shows so clearly that none need mistake to which power you yield allegiance. Every one has an influence either for good or for evil. Is your influence on the side of Christ or on that of Satan? Those who turn away from iniquity enlist the power of Omnipotence in their favor. The atmosphere that surrounds them is not of earth. By the silent power of a well ordered life and a godly conversation, they may present Jesus to the world. They may reflect Heaven's light, and win souls to Christ."

The 12-Step process is a tool that is successfully used by many, including myself, to turn our hearts from the service of self and satan to the service of God and a life of useful fulfillment.

"There can be no more important work than the proper education of our youth. We must guard them, fighting back Satan, that he shall not take them out of our arms. When the youth come to our colleges, they should not be made to feel that they have come among strangers, who do not care for their souls. There should be fathers and mothers in Israel who will watch for their souls, as they that must give account. Brethren and sisters, do not hold yourselves aloof from the dear youth, as though you have no particular concern or responsibility for them. You who have long professed to be Christians have a work to do to patiently and kindly lead them in the right way. You should show them that you love them because they are younger members of the Lord's family, the purchase of his blood."

"Teachers, what opportunities are yours! What a privilege is within your reach of molding the minds and characters of the youth under your charge! What a joy it will be to you to meet them around the great white throne, and know that you have done what you could to fit them for immortality! If your work stands the test of the great day, how like sweetest music will fall upon your ear the benediction of the Master, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.'"

"We are living in the perils of the last days. All heaven is interested in the characters you are forming. Every provision has been made for you, that you should be a partaker of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. Man is not left alone to conquer the powers of evil by his own feeble efforts. Help is at hand, and will be given every soul who really desires it. Angels of God, that ascend and descend the ladder that Jacob saw in vision, will help every soul who will to climb even to the highest heaven. They are guarding the people of God, and watching how every step is taken. Those who climb the shining way will be rewarded; they will enter into the joy of their Lord."

AMEN.

"Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs." (Step 12)

07/17/15

Permalink 07:58:54 am, Step(s): 12 Ministry and Practice, 420 words   English (US)

Show Off or Witness?

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works..." (Matthew 5:16 ).

Now, I don't know about you, but that text scares me. It sounds like Jesus is saying that I should show off to people because my works are really great. But, all my righteousness is as "filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6 ). And even if God has blessed me enough to have a light worth shining, I still have a problem with showing off. You see, in my lifetime, I've been exposed to a lot of people who seldom talk about anything other than their "great" accomplishments. And, in my carnal nature, I've done some of that too. Maybe that's why it makes me sick when I hear it now. I guess that's why I consciously resist any urge to talk about any "good" thing I might have done, or said.

But hold on... Is that really what Jesus meant? What about the rest of that text -- "...and glorify your Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 5:16 ). Wow, that changes things... That takes the focus off me and gives glory to God. I'm more comfortable with that. But still, it makes me nervous, because my works really aren't that great. So let's look at another saying of Jesus to see if it helps.

In Mark, chapter 5, the story is told of how Jesus cast a bunch of demons out of this wretched man and into a nearby heard of pigs. Love for Jesus immediately sprung up in this man's heart. He pleaded with Jesus to become one of his disciples. But Jesus said, "No, go home to your family, and tell them everything the Lord has done for you and how merciful he has been.” 20 So the man started off to visit the Ten Towns[a] of that region and began to proclaim the great things Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed at what he told them." (Mark 5:18-20 ).

That really makes me re-think my position on this. When I consider all that God has done for me during my years of following Him, I have to admit that I really do have some experiences that are worth sharing. My love for Jesus is great, because I have been forgiven much (Luke 7:47 ). The truth is that I am driven to share with others the great things that God has done (and is doing) for me. What about you? Do you also have stories of God's grace and mercy in your life that may inspire others?

"Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs." (Step 12)

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