Excerpt from When Therapy Isn’t Enough:

John Bradshaw, in his book Healing the Shame that Binds You, states: “Twelve-step groups literally were born out of the courage of two people risking coming out of hiding. One alcoholic person (Bill W.) turned to another alcoholic person (Dr. Bob) and they told each other how bad they really felt about themselves. I join with Scott Peck in seeing this dialogue coming out of hiding as one of the most important events of this century.”

I join with John Bradshaw and Scott Peck in seeing the dialogue between Bill W. and Dr. Bob, in which they each came out of hiding and gave birth to 12-Step groups, as one of the most important events of the 20th century. I believe that another important event of the 20th century, a building block on what Bill W. and Dr. Bob did, is what John Baker and Rick Warren did. John Baker understood the vision God gave him for a Christ-centered recovery program and acted on it, giving birth to Celebrate Recovery. Rick Warren gave John Baker the needed permission and support to establish and build Celebrate Recovery at Saddleback Church in Southern California and then take it to the world.

Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1625861117/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1531867727&sr=1-2&keywords=When+Therapy+Isn%27t+Enough

 

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If you are experiencing difficulty discovering or living your purpose, I encourage you to work a Christ-centered 12-Step recovery program. You very well may have hurts, habits or hang-ups that are impeding you from discovering and/or living your God-anointed purpose.

You may believe that you only have to accept Christ as your Lord and Savior for your life to be complete and satisfying. The proclamation that “I am a born again Christian, my past is washed clean, I am a new creature, and Christ has totally changed me” is true. Our Spirits are born again. Our flesh, however, is holding on to a lifetime of hurts, habits and hang-ups. The likelihood that you have no behaviors, thoughts or attitudes that need to be changed and/or wounds that need to be healed is small to nonexistent. I believe that it is impossible for anyone to grow to adulthood without accruing some hurts along the way and developing some destructive habits or hang-ups.

To over-spiritualize the initial work of salvation may be to deny the actual condition of our lives. Giving our life to God, accepting his free gift of forgiveness and entering into a personal relationship with him is step three. Taking this step assures you that you will spend eternity with him in heaven. You can stop there. Many people do. If you want to live a life of abundance marked by internal peace, joy and fulfillment, however, you need to work the additional nine steps. Working these steps is what improves the quality of your life on earth and increases the possibility of your doing what you were created and shaped to do: making your unique contribution to the body of Christ.

After writing my last post I was reminded of an article I wrote a number of years ago titled 12 Steps=the Christian Walk. Here is the article beginning at Step 2:

Step 1, if worked properly, leaves us feeling empty and ready for Step 2 – We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. When we begin to see that help is available to us and as we reach out and accept what our Higher Power has to offer, we start to feel hopeful that our life will improve and we’ll feel better. To take this step we need not understand what lies ahead. We need to trust that God knows what lies ahead and that He loves us and will take care of us.

Taking Step 2 positions us to take Step 3 – We made a decision to turn our lives and our wills over to the care of God. In the first 2 steps we became aware of our condition and accepted the idea of a power greater than ourselves. Step 3 is decision time. When we take Step 3 God becomes the manager of our life and we learn to accept life on His terms. Many of us initially take Step 3 by turning over only certain parts of our lives to God. We are willing to turn over the problematic parts of our lives when we see they are making our lives unmanageable, however, we hold onto other parts of our lives thinking we can manage them just fine thank you very much. We eventually realize, however, that we cannot barter with God. We must surrender our entire will and every area of our life to His care if we really want to recover. When we are finally able and willing to accept this reality, our journey to wholeness begins for real and we are ready to work Step 4.

Step 4 – We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves – opens our eyes to the weaknesses in our lives that need changing and helps us to build on our strengths. We examine our behavior and expand our understanding of ourselves. As we begin to see ourselves clearly, we learn to accept our whole character – the good and the bad. As our self-discovery unfolds, we begin to recognize the role that denial has played in our lives. This realization is the basis for embracing the truth of our personal history. An honest and thorough inventory leads to self-acceptance and freedom.

Step 5 – We admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs – gives us the opportunity to set aside our pride as we see ourselves through the lens of reality. Step 5 is a pathway out of isolation and loneliness, and results in freedom, happiness and serenity. Working Step 5 lays a new foundation for our life of relationship to God and commitment to honesty & humility. Our growing relationship with God gives us the courage to examine ourselves and reveal our true self to ourselves, to God and to another human being. Self-disclosure is an important part of our Christian walk. We were created to live in community with both God and people. Authentic community requires disclosure. It is tempting to believe that telling God is all that is necessary because He ultimately forgives all sins. While this is true, confession to another human being provides special healing and wholeness and releases the grip of hidden sin. Once we share our inventory with God and with another human being we are ready to move on to Step 6.

Step 6 – We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character – provides us with a needed rest as God works in us to create needed change. Our task in this step is to develop the willingness to respond to God’s desired action in our lives. We may believe the saying “God helps those who help themselves, so get busy and change.” This, however, is not true. Change comes from God, not from our self-will, and it comes when we are willing to Let Go and Let God!

In Step 7 – We humbly ask Him to remove all our shortcomings – we Let God. We work this step on our knees in humble prayer, asking God to remove our shortcomings, one defect at a time. Asking God to remove our defects is a true measure of our willingness to surrender control. For those of us who have spent our lives thinking we were self-sufficient, surrendering control can be an extremely difficult task. It is also an extremely freeing task. It takes much faith & trust to work this step. We need to remember that God hears us and wants to answer our prayer. We also need to remember that God works on His timetable, not ours. He will remove our defects when He knows we are ready.

Step 8 – Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all – begins the process of healing damaged relationships. Up to this point in our recovery we have been looking at and dealing with how our hurts, habits and hang-ups affected us. We now begin to look at how they harmed others. Reviewing our Fourth Step inventory helps us determine who belongs on our list. Once our amends list is done we are ready to move on to Step 9 – We made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. This step gives us the opportunity to take concrete action to heal the damage of our past and to move further along on the pathway out of isolation and loneliness. Accepting responsibility for the harm we’ve done to others is a humbling experience because it forces us to admit the effect we have had on people that we care about. It requires much courage to successfully complete this step. It is not easy to admit to someone face to face that we have hurt him or her and to ask for forgiveness. Doing this, however, leads to increased self-esteem, serenity, and peace, both in ourselves and in our relationships.

Steps 8 & 9 help us repair our past. Step 10 – We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it – is a maintenance step that is designed to help us stay on track in our recovery. Doing a daily inventory and making amends as needed strengthens and protects our recovery and is a vital part of walking a healthy Christian walk.

Step 11 – We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and power to carry that out – is another maintenance step. Our relationship with God is our most important relationship. In order for that relationship to be vibrant and alive, ongoing honest communication is critical. As we draw near to God in prayer and meditation, we draw close to our source of power, serenity, guidance and healing. To ignore communication with God is to unplug our power source.

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 – is an action step. Step 12 calls us to reach out to those who are hurting and struggling, and to share with them our experience, strength and hope. 1 Peter 3:10 tells us: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have”. The most powerful way that we can work Step 12 of carrying this message to others is to actually WALK the Christian walk, to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. When working Step 12 a good rule of thumb is “Actions speak louder than words”. There is no more powerful witness of God’s transformational love and power than a transformed life that lives that transformation day in and day out.

Not all of us were fortunate enough to grow up with Christian parents who modeled a personal faith in Christ right before our eyes. I didn’t. Therefore, getting to know the real God and learning to trust him and surrender to him was a struggle for me. If this is true for you as well, I suggest you work a 12 Step program. It was through working the 12 Steps with Jesus Christ as my Higher Power that I learned how to trust God, how to surrender to him, how to obey him, and how to wait on him. I also developed clarity regarding what I can control and what I cannot control.

Though the 12 Steps were developed by Bill W. and Dr. Bob as a roadmap or path to recovery when they founded Alcoholics Anonymous in the 1930s, the 12 Steps are not only applicable to drug and/or alcohol problems. They are applicable to any struggle in life, including difficulty trusting God. Interestingly enough, many people believe that the 12 Steps were divinely inspired, and indeed, Bill W. founded Alcoholics Anonymous following a spiritual experience he had in which his desire to drink alcohol was removed. For me, the 12 Steps have proven to be a roadmap to God and guidelines for living a Christian life.

Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors, that our lives had become unmanageable is an invitation to face reality and admit that our life isn’t working with us in control. We stop pretending that it is working, we admit our powerlessness and stop trying to manage our life our way. Step 1, if worked properly, leaves us feeling empty and ready for Step 2: We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. When we begin to see that help is available to us, and as we reach out and accept what our Higher Power has to offer, we start to feel hopeful that our life will improve and we’ll feel better. To take this step, we need not understand what lies ahead. We need to trust that God knows what lies ahead and that He loves us and will take care of us. Taking Step 2 positions us to take Step 3: We made a decision to turn our lives and our wills over to the care of God. In the first two steps, we became aware of our condition and accepted the idea of a power greater than ourselves. Step 3 is decision time. When we take Step 3, God becomes the manager of our life and we learn to accept life on His terms.

We may have been taught to believe that we only have to accept Christ as our Lord and Savior for our lives to be complete and satisfying. Our proclamation that “I am a born-again Christian; my past is washed clean; I am a new creature; Christ has totally changed me” is true. Our Spirits are born again. Our flesh, however, is not. Our flesh has lived in the world and is bearing consequences of that. We are most probably carrying around buried unhealed hurts, engaging in some maladaptive habits, and holding onto some destructive hang-ups. In order to truly live the life Jesus died to give us, we need more than salvation. We need transformation. Working the additional nine steps with Jesus Christ as our Higher Power (doing and sharing an inventory of our lives, making amends to people we have hurt, forgiving people who have hurt us, praying and taking an inventory daily, helping others) can and will lead to transformation. I can tell you from personal experience that it will enrich your personal relationship with God and enable you to wait on him if you choose to do so.

Link: https://www.tatepublishing.com/bookstore/book.php?w=9781634188159