Our chapter this week kicks off with the story of Dennis.
Alcoholism had cost Dennis two large businesses and two families. After each loss my friend built himself a new life, but he was unable to sustain it. A wife would divorce him, a business would go bankrupt.
Binges, police interventions, and drunken stupors had often embarrassed Dennis and him families. Many mornings he woke up in places he could not recall having driven to. His life was bleak, and his friends had little reason to believe he could ever change.
Dennis is a different man today. No longer the alcoholic of twenty years ago, he is a successful business man, a good husband, a loving father, and a faithful friend. he leads a ministry to addicts in his church and is known in the community for responding quickly in seemingly hopeless situations.
The fruit of his current life is remarkable. Curious about how he had made the turnaround in those early, hopeless days, i asked him once how he became sober.
“It wasn’t hard,” he said dryly. “I went to seven AA meetings a day.”
Clearly Dennis’ recovery had not just dropped out of the sky. He had worked very hard at it, discovering that God requires us as his partners in sanctification.
We’ll that’s a crazy maker. I kind of grew up with the whole idea of letting go of everything and giving it to the Lord. I think the little way I was taught was “Let Go and Let God.” Anybody else grow up with this teaching. So then I get to this chapter and again it pushes against the foundations of my teaching.
So what’s true and not true about this crazy maker?
God wants us and even requires us to be active and responsible participants in our spiritual growth. I think what kind of keeps us stuck is that we don’t realize that we have a part that we have to live up to in our walk with God. In this crazy maker there isn’t a right and a wrong. It’s more a both…and. We are unable to save ourselves, and yet we have to be actively at work in the process of becoming more like Christ.
Without God’s help we are powerless to heal our pain and at the same time we have a lot of work to do. One of the things I liked best about this week’s study is it bases this process on the 12 Steps that are so often associate with the Anonymous groups. However we can’t will our growth to happen. All we can do is put the pieces in place to give us the greatest chance to success.
- What can we do to make the circumstances in our life right for healing and growth?
- What are you currently doing?
I’m going to highlight the basic principle here, we’ll discuss more in our group regarding where we feel like we are in each step.
- We have the ability to own our problems.
It’s only when we admit that we are stuck that we can begin to work on what can get us unstuck.
- Here’s a little prayer to guide us through this step.
“God I realize that I am stuck in …..(what area of my life). I have been blaming (whom) for (what) and making excuses for myself rather than taking responsibility for (what).”
- Here’s a little prayer to guide us through this step.
- We have the ability to confess our failure to solve our problems.
We are powerless to save ourselves (2 Corinthians 2:19)
- What problems have you tried to solve?
- What methods have you used to solve them? Has it worked?
- We have the ability to ask for help from God and others.
Practice humility. Here’s where we recognize we can’t do it alone. (Matthew 7:7)
- Who have you asked for help?
- We have the ability to continue searching and asking God and others to reveal to us what is in our souls.
As we recognize those places where God is speaking by his spirit and through others we can begin to see ourselves like we really are. Read David’s example: (Psalm 139)
- What has God revealed to you about sin in your life?
- What have God’s people helped you see about yourself?
- We have the ability to turn from the evil that we discover inside ourselves.
When we find something we don’t like about ourselves we have the ability to repent (to turn our backs on that which we see and don’t like) and move in the other direction.
- What evil have you turned away from?
- Describe what that process looked like for you.
- We have the ability to find out what needs were not met when we grew up in our family, and then take those needs to the family of God, where the can be met.
God heals us through His people. We are meant to be in relationship with eachother.
- What hurts have come from family relationships?
- What healing has come through healthy relationships with people from God’s family?
- We have the ability to seek out those whom we have injured and, when it is helpful, to apologize, admit our wrong, and ask them for forgiveness.
Can anyone say this might be the hardest thing there is to do! To have peace with God we have to live in peace with eachother. (1 John 4:20 & 21)
- Who are you not at peace with right now?
- What step will you take toward apologizing and asking for forgiveness?
- We have the ability to forgive others who have hurt us.
Our recovery is tied to our ability to forgive. We each have been forgiven much…we can give that same grace to others. (Ephesians 4:32)
- Describe your understanding of the forgiveness process.
- What steps are involved?
- We have the ability to develop gifts and talents God has given us.
God has given us talents and things we do well…we need to use them.
- What gifts and talents has God given you?
- What are you doing with those gifts?
- What is holding you back?
- We have the ability to continue seeking God.
God promises us that if we seek Him we will find Him. (James 4:2; Matthew 7:7-11; Luke 18:1-8)
- What are you doing to seek God?
- We have the ability to seek truth and wisdom.
Truth is a person. Truth is God & truth is what God reveals to us through His word. (Hebrews 5:14)
- What are you doing to seek truth and wisdom?
- We have the increasing ability to follow God’s example of love.
Jesus commanded us to love one another. (1 John 3:23) Love connects us with God, makes our hearts soft, helps us connect with others and helps us mature.
- Are you holding on to anger, desire for revenge?
- Which path leads to healing?
- How have you grown in your ability to love?
Here’s more to consider from page 222.
“Change is hard, spiritual work – but not “spiritual” in the strict sense of referring only to prayer and Bible study. Change involves the spiritual work of learning to cry over losses, to accept comfort from people, to repent of relational patters that keep us from loving others, to forgive those who have hurt us,, and to overcome those defenses that keep us from responding to love. Prayer and Bible study enable us to do all these things, activities by which we “work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12) and so come to possess what God has already secured for us.
If you’d like to join this study in real time…I’m teaching it at HopePark Wednesday Mornings & Thursday Nights. If you’re a Nashville local, the door is always open. We’re at 8001 Hwy. 70 South, just off I-40. Online at http://hopepark.com and on twitter @hopepark.
Me…well you can find me twittering @jodytodd.
Have a great week!
Questions and assigned quotes from the study by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend entitled “12 Christian Beliefs That Can Drive You Crazy.”