The Process of Writing Your Inventory

8 May

By: Jamie

The process of completing our inventory comes when we get to the Celebrate Recovery Principle 4. Principle 4 states “Openly examine and confess my faults to myself, to God, and to someone I trust. (Happy are the pure in heart. — Matthew 5:8)” What I like about principle 4 is that it is a working principle; it directs us toward the things we need to and guides us through the things that we have to make happen — and that thing we are doing, that thing we are making happen is… INVENTORY!!!

A few notes about completing the inventory: First, get ready to WRITE!!! Your inventory needs to be on paper. Writing or typing will help you organize your thoughts and focus on recalling events that you may have repressed. Second, remember you are not going through this alone. You are developing your support team to guide you; but even more importantly you are growing in your relationship with Jesus Christ!

Ephesians 4:31 tells us, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” — and that is exactly what the inventory helps us do! Celebrate Recovery has provided us with an inventory worksheet that address 5 areas to work through as completing the inventory. As you prepare to begin your inventory, it is important to notice that the 5 area are related to one another; they are interconnected, building upon one another. All of the areas have purpose and value to our recoveries.

So, what are the 5 areas, you ask? Well – here they are: “the person”, “the cause”, “the effect”, “the damage”, and “my part”.

“The Person” — This is where you list the person/people you resent or fear. Go back as far as you can. Look into your heart, mind, and soul — and RELEASE ALL of it!!! Don’t hold anything back! As I completed my own inventory, I realized that as hard as it was to write down names and face all of the resentment that had burrowed down into my heart, it was also where I encountered the goodness of Jesus Christ. It was through my inventory that my resentments faded as the light of my faith in Jesus was allowed to shine.

“The Cause” — Let me just give you a heads up — this one is not easy at all. This is the part of the inventory where you write down what the people you wrote about did to you. It is during this part of the inventory that you may relive painful moments, situations, and experiences from your past. That is why having a support team (accountability partners and a sponsor) is so important; but while there may be painful memories and feelings brought forth — in the end, it is that process of drawing up and releasing them that allows you to be free. And… God made us a promise that will help us through it – “Fear not, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed. I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will uphold you with my victorious right hand (Isaiah 41:10)”.

“The Effect” — Effect is defined as “a change that is a result or consequence of an action or other cause. It is at this point of our inventories that we begin to identify the repercussions and ramifications that came forth from the people and the causes identified earlier in our inventory. For me, as I completed this part of my inventory, I came to see that the effect was not just external – as in how I choose to isolate myself from others around me or how I acted; but it was internal to – my thoughts and feelings; how I viewed myself, God, and others, it all changed as a result of holding resentments toward others, as a result of the situations in my life. It took the inventory process for me to see this; to see that the mindset I had, the beliefs I had about myself and others was faulty, and in Christ I found the strength to move beyond it.

“The Damage” — This is closely related to “the effect”. What are the results of the hurt done? What are the results that you have lived with through your whole life? This is where you start to identify or work through things such as — lack of trust, isolation, not letting people close, trouble with intimacy, being afraid, and feeling like there is no hope for the future (just to name a few). It is amazing to see how you can draw a line directly from the unhealthy things in your life to the damage caused. As I completed my own inventory, I became excited as I began to realize the connection, and was able to release it; because when I could release it, I could live in a healthy way.

“My Part” — Are you ready for this? This is where you ask God to show you your part; to show you what part of the resentment YOU are responsible for. As much as we may not want to admit we had any part in what led us to the place of needing recovery, sometimes, we did have a part to play in it. It is at this stage of our inventory when our prayer needs to be that of the psalmist, “Examine me, O God, and know my mind; test me, and discover if there is any evil in me and guide me in the everlasting way (Psalm 139:23-24).”

**NOTE**

If you have been in an abusive relationship, especially as a small child, you can find great freedom in this part of the inventory. You see that you had NO part, NO responsibility for the cause of the resentment. By simply writing the words NONE or NOT GUILTY, you can begin to be free from the misplaced shame and guilt you have carried with you.

With our inventories, we face tough stuff from our past — but God is with us, and freedom is waiting!!!

So, start writing!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sponsor

8 May

A Sponsor “Leaves No Man Behind”

By: Gary

I left rehab in the fall of 2000 with several written mandates that included random drug and alcohol testing for three years, attend 90 meetings in 90 days, work the 12 steps and get a sponsor.  I really didn’t want to do that!  That implied that I would need to do my 4th Step with him; telling him “all” that I had done, and being accountable to him for my actions.

Oh my goodness!  Who in the world would “make” me do that.  Don’t they realize who I am?  Good grief, I have a doctors degree, I have been a deacon, a Sunday School teacher, and I really only did what I did, because I was struggling in my marriage, and my wife’s actions “forced” me to use drugs and alcohol to anesthetize my pain.  Daily life was a hard fought battle!

There was no getting out of at least asking someone to be my sponsor, and I figured if I asked someone really lame, they wouldn’t care, they wouldn’t ask questions, and they wouldn’t bother me about these resentments I have had.  When I asked for someone to help me, and be a sponsor, a tougher speaking man, a Marine named Bill, came over and said he would work with me, but I had to start at Step 1.

Little did I realize that this tough Marine was kind and caring.  He had survived the 77 day siege in 1968 for the American military base at Khe Sanh.  During that battle, 274 Americans were killed, 2541 wounded.   Afterwards, all Americans were evacuated, victory was declared for that battle.  Bill had survived a mortar blast that exploded right on top of his bunker leaving him shaken, hearing compromised, but able to walk.

There is a saying in the military to ”leave no man behind.”  When we met in 2000, and Bill agreed to be my sponsor, I was quite wounded physically – drugs and alcohol destroyed the nerves in my legs all the way to the level of my spinal cord.  I was wounded emotionally, and had lost the ability to feel happy or sad.  I was wounded spiritually, and had lost my connection with God through Christ.  When I didn’t feel like I even wanted or needed help, this caring Marine literally did for me, what I could not do for myself.  He asked me after the 3rd step if I would get on my knees and read the 3rd step prayer aloud.  I said sure, seemed like “just another” printed standard prayer.  But as I began to pray the words with Bill, the words took on meaning.  I was praying God would be everything to me, or nothing at all.  I could hardly see the words – I was weeping so strongly!  I was repenting, I was praying to God that I want Him back in my life more than anything else.  I had a sponsor who got on his knees and cared enough to make sure my heart was right with God.  I was still a wounded mess, but Bill led me back to God through Christ!  He was not leaving me behind, he wasn’t rejecting me, he was praying with me and for me on his knees.

I am forever blessed that God brought this battle toughened, but spiritually kind, accepting, and caring Marine – Bill into my life.  He really did do for me, what I could not do on my own, bring me back to a healing relationship with God.  I still walk with a limp today, and I still walk with my sponsor Bill by my side – He didn’t leave me behind.  And I know that God has His arm around both of us, He is always there, if I only turn around and ask.  I have known Bill for almost 17 years now, he is also still there for me, and we still meet as often as we can, or visit on the phone.  I am not alone; I am alive with Christ living in me!

Lesson 7 Moral “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”

17 Apr

The Good, Bad, and the Ugly!

Not many of you reading this were alive during the 1966 Spaghetti Western of “The Good, Bad, and the Ugly”, however, it fits pretty well with this week’s lesson on Moral.

In the movie for those of you who have not seen it, Clint Eastwood played the Good guy (he had no name in the movie), was referred to as Blondie.  Lee Van Cleef played the part of the Bad and was called Sentenza.  Eli Wallach was the ugly and his character’s name was Tuco.  It seems to me that in everything we get involved in, there’s always a good, bad, and ugly!

In every walk of life, we tend to hide behind something or we try to cover up or gloss over the real issues we’re facing!  One of the greatest things we do here in Celebrate Recovery is to insure that our masks are off and that the real reason for why we attend is always brought to everyone’s attention.  Our ability to fix ourselves was lost some time ago if we’re honest with ourselves.  And isn’t that the reason behind Moral Inventory?  Moral tends to run some folks off since they still live in never never land!  But we who are serious about our recovery have removed those masks and began to take the journey of recovery with no more pretending to be something we’re not!  The way I see it, we have three options and they are the good, the bad, or the ugly.

We’ve already tried “ugly” and that’s what has brought us here to Celebrate Recovery.  The “bad” is that old nature we tend to keep on picking up and preventing ourselves the restoration the Lord has promised us!  I know that it’s hard to change, but why is it so easy to change when we have a medical condition that requires us to change. That’s not an issue; but if we have a heart issue that needs to be changed, we tend to drag this thing out even to the point that we even go back into denial?  Don’t be like this old devil dog who tends to lay my back pack of change and doubt at Christ’s feet and then only pick it back up when I’m tired to waiting on Him to answer.  I mean really, I just left it at H

Enough of the “bad”, let’s go to the “good”.  The “good” is what we’ve been promised if we will just lean on Him and believe that He will do everything He has said He will do!  You know Moral just means the good that is before us!  The problem that I had in my recovery wasn’t the performance, but the obedience to God and turning all of me over to His will.  I wanted so bad to keep control and then allow myself to get all the Glory for the work that He has done in my life.  But, you see, He wants all of your will to be involved in His will and then and only then will you see victory in this step.  Before you tackle step four and the inventory, be sure you completed step 3 and surrendered your will to God’s Will.  Once that happens and we have shared all those dirty little secrets to our one and only Higher Power Jesus Christ and to someone we trust (i.e. your sponsor), then scripture tells us that then He will heal us!  (James 5:16)

Psalm 51:10 state, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”  I’ve finally figured out in my life that change, although hard at times, is possible in our lives; but only if and when we are ready to accept it.  That time usually comes when our pain becomes greater than our fear.  Even when we have been in recovery for awhile, we can still struggle with change.  And yet change is necessary if we are to find wholeness.  Change is also constant, for we live in a changing world.  Let’s quit rebelling about the issues and look to our God who is greater than any issue.  Just like in the story of David and Goliath, no one else discusses God, yet David discusses no one but God!  Why not try a different tack than you’ve tried before?  Load up your sling and rush into your trouble or trial!  The way you load up your sling is to stay in His Word and on your knees daily!  Once God says you’re ready, attack that trial and God will do exactly what He has said He would.

Blessings Jim

Joshua 1:9

 

Action – Lesson 6

23 Mar

What is action? A thing done — to put it simply. All of recovery is one long process of action. From deciding to walk into a CR meeting, to staying for a small group, getting a blue chip, completing a step study — staying sober, finding victory, overcoming a hang-up… all of it involves getting things done, a process of acting.

Principle 3 helps propel us forward into this process of recovery. Principle 3 states “Consciously choose to commit all my life and will to Christ’s care and control.” This choice, this act, of committing our lives and wills to Christ is the foundation of change in our lives, and it all begins with accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior.

We are each faced with the decision to accept Jesus Christ as our Savior – to accept Him gives us freedom; to not keeps us in bondage to our sin (addictions, habits, hang-ups). Romans 10:9 says, “If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

It seems to me that sometimes we think we have to get ourselves cleaned up, fixed, and rebuilt into something acceptable before we can turn to Jesus and trust Him as our Savior. That thinking does not come from the Lord; Jesus wants us today, as is. Satan tells us to wait until tomorrow, until we are better. This sets up a different process of action; one that keeps us ensnared to those things that have prevented us from experiencing joy and hope. There is no need to wait — it is Jesus who cleans, who fixes, who rebuilds. All you need is the willingness to make the decision; Jesus Christ does the rest.

And once you have accepted Christ as Savior; comes the time to commit to His will, to turn it ALL over to Him. For so long, I tried to keep doing things according to the plan I had for my life; I tried to micromanage every little situation so that the outcome fit into the mold I had created for myself. And, it was never enough. I always came up short, always felt like a failure — and all the disappointments kept adding up leading me further into my addictions and habits. It wasn’t until I turned it over to the Lord and committed to following His will for my life that I began to experience any real semblance of success (by which I mean feeling hopeful for the future and joy in my day-to-day life). To be honest, I was tired of trying to be in control; tired of carrying all of my past mistakes and failures with me. It was exhausting. Praise God that we do not have to keep carrying our burdens! “Come to me and I will give you rest – all of you who work so hard beneath a heavy yoke. Wear my yoke – for it fits perfectly – and let me teach you; for I am gentle and humble, and you shall find rest for your souls; …” — Matthew 11:28-29.

I have been taking action in overcoming my hurts, habits, and addictions for two years, and what I have learned over and over is this… Our recoveries happen one day at a time. We cannot let the past and its regrets nor the worry of tomorrow control us any longer. It is in the present, the here and now, today that change and growth can occur. The past cannot be changed, and the only thing we can do about tomorrow is pray. Jesus gave us instructions for living this philosophy: “So don’t be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time.” — Matthew 6:34. With Jesus Christ’s guidance and direction, we can actively choose to make a difference in the way we live our lives TODAY!

Don’t wait anymore to find freedom in Jesus Christ — take action!!

Blessings,

Jamie

 

Lesson 11: Confess

17 Jun

“How many of y’all have done something you regret? All of us, right?! I’ve found that all too often I tend to hang on to those things much longer than I should. In fact, I will even carry them around with me. They are like a backpack that I have to pick up each and every time I move from place to place so that they will always be close by. If I carry them around long enough without taking care of them, the backpack tends to get pretty heavy to lug around and limits the things that I can do.

Max Lucado has a book titled, “God is with You Every Day”. In it he talks about this guilt we tend to carry with us each day and the results of it. He states, “God has the final word on your life, and His word is Grace! According to the Bible, Jesus said, “The Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins” (Mark 2:10).” What he means by this is we allow ourselves to wallow around in our false guilt so that we can feel good and sorry for what we did, or what was done to us! However, the good news is that if you are in Christ, our sin is gone! Scripture tells us that our sin is as far as the east is from the west. (Psalms 103:12). Jesus has done His part by forgiving us of our sins; we have to do ours by giving Him our guilt! We need to tell Jesus what we did without holding anything back. We must go into as much detail as possible because healing happens when the wound is exposed to the cleansing atmosphere of Grace. You see, confession is not punishment for sin; it is an isolation of sin so it can be exposed and extracted.

 

We must be firm in our prayers since Satan traffics in guilt. So tell his false guilt where to get off and for heaven’s sake, stop tormenting yourself over doing something wrong! Romans states very clearly,“All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God!” (Romans 3:23). Jesus is strong enough to carry your sin; did He not say He would do so? We need to believe Him! Then to complete Step five, we need to follow the instructions we’ve been given! Step five states: “We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.” And the scripture that is associated with this is, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” (James 5:16) After we admit our on faults, confess to God our specifics, and then we must find our sponsor and tell him/her as well. We will then be out of our isolation where Satan rules and the healing can begin!

 

I pray each one of you reading this will let loose of that backpack you have been carrying around and lay it at Jesus’ feet and leave it there! Believe Him and allow His healing Grace perfect you into the person He wants you to become!”

In Christ Love!

 

Jim

Sponsor

5 May

Sex, drugs, alcohol…. These used to be some of my favorite things….until I felt so bad!

Then I contemplated the beginning of the solution, get a Sponsor.  There is something about when the dog bites, when the bee stings, and when I’m feeling sad, simply remembering my favorite things was not working for me!  I kept doing the same things over and over.  I knew God, but the drugs and alcohol had killed my spiritual relationship with God, and everything I did was literally physically killing me.  The solution of working the steps with a sponsor sounded worse than a month in rehab! And I certainly wasn’t going to confess any of my mess to any living human.  My goodness gracious!!! Hadn’t I felt enough rejection, and enough of feeling alone?  Just kick me now, I could feel it coming!  I wouldn’t even get to the third strike before I was out the door with a sponsor!  In fact, I expected that after my first pitch sharing what I had done, I’d be out the door! I decided to be a hold out on finding a sponsor as long as I could.

A pending deadline as I was leaving rehab continued to surface: I had to have written verification from my sponsor that he was actually my sponsor in 30 days or less! No way getting around this one!  Don’t they understand who I am, I’ll get one.

I waited until about day 29.  I had been to enough meetings to evaluate whom I would ask to be my sponsor.  It sure would have taken the potential rejection syndrome off if I had been assigned one or someone had said they wanted to, but it was up to me.  I had a couple of men in mind I might ask, however, they seemed they may be on the lame side of being serious about recovery, but at least I could get another signature and another item checked off.  The sponsor thing would be smooth.  I had prayed about this process, and figured that if I openly asked who may be able to be a sponsor, and gave the lame dudes “the look”, they’d say sure man!  But to my surprise, a Marine, the most firm believer in God, walked up to me, stepped between the others and my eyes and said, “I’ll be your temporary sponsor, but you will start from the very beginning of the steps, if I’m going to work with you.”  I took a big swallow, and said thank you sir!  I felt nauseous!  Boot Camp was about to begin.  I cried out to God, this was the only man to offer, surely those lame dudes didn’t see my looks or hear my request, and they would volunteer, this Marine came in at the wrong time, or was it really a miracle he did?

As God was doing for me what I couldn’t do for myself, one person serious about recovery came over to me and said, “you mentioned that you couldn’t wait to get back to where you used to be after you complete the steps, do you really want to go back to that miserable lifestyle?” He quoted Romans 12:2 where Paul wrote:”Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that the will of God is that which is good, acceptable, and perfect.”

As he walked away, I did have to admit, that even though I was a church member, believed in Jesus Christ as my savior, I had been unwilling to wait upon the Lord, and I wanted a quick fix in sex, drugs, alcohol, and I also later learned I had a problem with over eating, unhealthy co-dependent relationships, and just about anything that gave me instant gratification.

So I chose to work with my Marine sponsor Bill, and it wasn’t like a grueling physical boot camp, but a healthy spiritual boot camp.  The first thing I asked Bill was:  ” I’m about to begin working the steps with you, even though I had done through step 3, I’ll begin again, but please tell me one thing, above all that you do with the steps, what gives you such clarity of mind and spiritual connection to God.”  He answered that he begins every day with a reading from scripture, or something he may pray with God about, but then he literally gets on his knees in prayer.  Not just hitting the snooze alarm and saying a few foggy words to God.  But he actually was transforming his mind, repenting of the wrongs he had done, and in doing so was forming a life changing relationship with God through Christ by getting on his knees before God!

I began to listen to Bill as we went through the steps, he had actually done them many times, and he continually took a daily inventory.  Many of my questions led to the answers in steps I would later study.  He never told me I had to do anything.  He freely offered what he did to stay healthy.

I did ultimately realize that this tough Marine was full of God’s love, acceptance, mercy, and grace. … So long as I did things in a God honoring way.  After 16 years, I now have not only a sponsor, but a most dear and trusted friend, and I am most blessed that he took the time to demonstrate God’s love from the very beginning and though this day.

Two passages in the Bible confirm our relationship with Bill as my sponsor:

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 tells us, “Two are better off than one, because together they can work more effectively.  If one of them falls down, the other can help him up.  But if someone is alone….there is no one to help him….Two men can resist an attack that would defeat one man alone.”

And the second passage is:

Proverbs 27:17  “as iron sharpens iron, man sharpens man.

Thank you God, thank you Bill, and thank you for each and everyone for your prayers.  Bill and I are alive, and alive in our relationship with God because you have prayed for us.

 

-Gary

ACT(ion)

22 Mar

This week in Celebrate Recovery we will be learning about action.  The acrostic for ACTION is as follows:

A – Accept Jesus Christ as your Higher Power and Savior

C – Commit to asking God’s will for your life

T – Turn everything over to Christ, little and big things

I – It is only the beginning, you have steps to go through to end your hurt, habit, or hang-up

O – One day at a time, trust Jesus that He’s going to set you free from your hurt, habit or hang up

N – Next step is to ask Jesus as your Higher Power into your life, if you have not done so

If you have not taken the N-the Next step, I suggest that this is the day that you trust everything to Him.

  • All of us are sinners
  • Wages of sin is death
  • The gift from God is eternal life through Christ Jesus
    • Jesus suffered and died for you
    • He replaced His life for your sins so you have forgiveness
    • Believe with all your being that He is Master of your life
    • He was raised on the third day to prepare a place in heaven for you
    • Trust in Him and confess He is your Lord and the only way to heaven
  • Accept His forgiveness for your sins
  • Lean on Him moment by moment
  • Talk to Him without ceasing, He wants a relationship with you

I accepted Jesus as my Savior over twenty years ago, and one of the hardest things for me to do, is to take one day at a time. The bible tells us to be anxious for nothing.  I came to Celebrate Recovery because depression and anxiety were my main hang-ups at that time.  Praise the Lord that He had helped me to conquer drugs, alcohol, and sexual promiscuity previously!

I could not drive down the road without thinking I was going to die in a car accident, so much that I had to take anxiety medication. I couldn’t sleep because of all my worrying about the future, so I was on sleeping medication.  Through Celebrate Recovery, within one year, I was free of my anxiety and sleeping meds, and even though I still struggle through one day at a time at times, it is not to the extent of needing medication. Thank you Jesus!

Now, when I cannot sleep, I find peace in God’s word, journaling, and praying. I am at a different stage in my life where I want to know His will for my life now!  God does not work that way, He gives us what we can handle when He knows we can handle the next step(s).  I dealt with my depression and anxiety, and now He is helping me with my weight issues.  I did not get this way overnight, and we are a work in progress for those in Christ Jesus. God’s ways and will are better than our wills and ways. Because of this I learn to wait on Him daily.

I know that Isaiah 9:6 is usually quoted at Christmas, but with Easter coming up this is a great reminder of the precious attributes of Jesus:

“For unto us a Child is born,

Unto us a Son is given;

And the government will be upon His shoulder.

And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

 

My prayer for you is that you come to know Jesus as your Lord and Savior and that you take one day at a time and find peace in Him today.  Amen.

Blessings,

Dawn