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The Spirituality of AA


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I recently heard a friend say that going to an Al-Anon meeting was like going to church. This person talked about what it was like to be able sit together in such broken love.

I’ve heard others talk or write about what it is like to walk into other12 Step meetings where they immediately feel accepted and affirmed not because of their successes, but because of shared need.

Some make a point of saying that while it’s obvious that they aren’t in church—and aren’t ready to darken the door of a church—they end up doing many of the things that are done in healthy churches (i.e. opening themselves to spirituality by praying together, surrendering to God as they understand him, listening to one another, admitting wrongs, making restitution where possible, asking and depending on the Spirit of God to restore thoughtfulness and self control, helping one another, and rediscovering a sense of purpose in living to help others.)

So, have been thinking that it might be helpful to take another look together at the basic steps of AA and see how we think they stack up against the kind of spirituality that many of us are experiencing in church.

Step One—We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.

Step Two—Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Step Three—Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

Step Four—Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Step Five— Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

Step Six—Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

Step Seven—Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

Step Eight—Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

Step Nine—Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

Step Ten—Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

Step Eleven—Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

Step Twelve—Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Seems to me that, even though AA is set up to avoid affiliation with the church, or any sectarian group, it’s ability to help addicts, and those who love them, is rooted in writings that preceded the groups own Big Book.

Am guessing that among ourselves we probably have seen people use 12 Step Recovery sometimes as a step toward church… and sometimes away from it.

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100 Responses to “The Spirituality of AA”

  1. SFDBWV says:

    Sorry for being late this morning, but in case you missed the weather news we are embroiled in a “clipper” snow storm that had to be attended to before I could enjoy our fellowship.

    I would expect to hear from people who have been or are members of AA to have a lot to say on this subject, but I do have some experience with some that do as well as my own personal thoughts.

    The first thing I want to say is that as an organization they have helped countless people overcome their addiction and many returned to sectarian churches with their families as a result.

    I also want to say that any road that leads a person to Jesus as Lord I have no issues with.

    However because people are people no matter what affiliations they have within AA just like within any church you have good people and bad people. People who work toward the good of others and people who work only for themselves.

    Any organization is only going to be as successful as the people in it.

    I know of a man who gets all of the work done on and around his house by “sponsoring” young men who have been directed to join AA as a result of drug addiction convictions. He himself has been ostracized by several different chapters for this and many other issues only to return over and over to his particular short comings.

    I also knew of a man who said to me AA was his church and swore by it having saved him from alcohol addiction many years prior.

    Both men laid claim to being Christian.

    One for having saved him the other as a way into the world of milking kindness from well-intentioned people.

    The 12 step program could easily be seen in any Christian tenet as an admission of guilt asking for forgiveness from God and making restitution to any offended persons, all the while proclaiming that forgiveness is available.

    There does seem to be tension though in finding forgiveness from God through no action other than the action of the cross and “working” out a solution to addiction in a 12 step program.

    I hope I am not offending any. Just giving some thoughts between activities here.

    29 degrees and snowing.


  2. remarutho says:

    Good Morning BTA Friends —

    Have half-jokingly said from time to time that I am in recovery from being a type-A personality. Meaning, I hope to lighten up, be less intense and “self-directed.” A careful reading of the twelve steps of AA, NA or Celebrate Recovery shows a fully developed plan much like Jesus calling his disciples (us):

    “The time is fulfilled.

    The kingdom of God is at hand.

    Repent and believe in the gospel.”

    Mart, you wrote:

    “Am guessing that among ourselves we probably have seen people use 12 Step Recovery sometimes as a step toward church… and sometimes away from it.”

    Using the twelve step program to be healed of ugly religiosity, as you suggest in the conclusion of this statement, is a great idea! :o) And, the Lenten Journey is right around the corner. What a great idea, Mart!


  3. fadingman says:

    While I am a ‘normie’, I have been to many AA meetings with my wife who is in AA and is also a sponsor. AA played a big part in her coming to salvation.

    That being said, I would say that AA meetings come in both secular and Christian varieties. In some meetings, Jesus Christ is the only ‘higher power’, while in others it is whoever you want it to be. As such, the 12 steps can be a stepping stone to real biblical truth and salvation, or a stumbling block away from it.

    The 12 steps begin well and would be useful in a “Sinners Anonymous” meeting. We are powerless to overcome sin so we look to God to do so (Romans 7-8). And steps 8 through 10 are an excellent practical method of repentance. However, I don’t think the word ‘spiritual’ in step 12 carries a biblical meaning in the normal context of AA. Biblical spirituality is tied with the regeneration of the Holy Spirit which is only possible through being born again.

    The 12 steps address a temporal problem: substance abuse here on earth – and I do believe God uses the AA program to help people with their addictions. But the steps do not address the eternal consequences of sin against God. They do not mention the death of Jesus as the only solution to the sin problem – a more severe problem than substance addiction. AA offers temporal salvation, but not eternal salvation. It bothers me when I think about the many people who have overcome alcohol addition through AA, but never find Christ (Matthew 6:26).

    On the other hand, there are some aspects of AA meetings that I would like to see in our churches, especially everyone’s willingness to be open and blunt with their failures (James 5:16), and their willingness to help each other rather than condemn. That needs to happen in our churches.

    The 12 Traditions also have some good points in them..

  4. poohpity says:

    Let me speak as one who goes to church and has attended AA. All you have to do with the first step is replace the word Alcohol with sin. Reading the Bible I can see where the steps of AA came from and are leading us to, that only God can change us when we are honest about ourselves. That seems to be where things can go entirely wrong. It is so much easier to judge the brokenness(as in taking inventory) of others than to deal with it in our own lives. The focus of both is looking inward so we can look upward for the help needed for change. That is a continued porcess all through life. Become willing to admit. If only more professing Christians would follow the steps think of how welcoming our churches would be to the least of these of course not to the self righteous religious folks.

    Steve I would like to offer a different way of looking at the man who had addicts working for him. Could it be possible that the hands of the drug addicts were used to stealing rather than working, so having them work for him was a form of restitution. (Eph 4:28) So could it be possible that he not only was being a good Christian man but also a good sponsor.

  5. poohpity says:

    fadingman, you broke your wife’s anonymity. I hope you know I am only joshing with ya.

  6. street says:

    Romans 8:26 In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; 27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

    28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

  7. street says:

    don’t muzzle the ox that treads the grain.

  8. joycemb says:

    Street you always share such interesting posts; would you feel ok about sharing your first name?

  9. jeff1 says:

    It is so much easier to see the brokenness in others because there is brokenness in ourselves it is not a case of judging it is a case of having empathy. We do no have to be an alcoholic to know we are in need of fixing. It just happens to be those who have fallen from grace furtherest are sometimes the ones who do see it.

    I think the problem with addictions is that AA and the likes only treat the symptoms and not the cause, they don’t get to the root of why someone is drinking, so its only a temporary fix. I think most Churches are intolerant of people with addictions like alcohol, gambling etc.. I know I was brought up that doing anything like that was very much frowned on by Church goers so if you were doing it you did not admit to it.

    That is why it is a secretive society because of society’s attitude to victims. I often hear very harsh words from those who have no idea what they are talking about.

    I only started to see alcohol as a sin when I started to see the damage it done before that I seen it as just a part of my life and it was very much part of my culture being of Scots/Irish.

  10. joycemb says:

    Mart I live in that tension between leaving and returning to church. I have decided to redefine my church experience as nothing available works for me any longer; and believe me I have tried them all. I wish I lived in a more metropolitan area where I had more choices, but I don’t and because I live in a small town I am judged here by fundamentalists because I don’t attend church. The Lord tells me not to worry about what others think, just to keep my eyes on Him, which I do.

    I haven’t needed to use AA but other types of help. Interestingly the most helpful has been a Psycologist who didn’t read the Bible or attend church any longer who loved me best, like a father. I learned more about Gods love than any church I have attended. That said. He did grow up in church with very Godly parents whom he still talks about. Without his skill and training along with his sure footing in a loving God I would be more of a mess than I am.

    So yes I believe that specialized help such as a AA and others that are loving and lovingly confrontational have been born out of The God Who Is Love, and the Bible where we learn that God does and always has loved us, i.e. Jesus.

  11. poohpity says:

    Mart, it seems like such an oxymoron to say that to be a healthy church, people need to admit they are sick or broken but it is the only way to understand what God offers and His amazing grace. People who think any other way like the Pharisee in the Luke 18:9-14 maybe think of church like a social club. I understand those who admit their brokenness and realize how much they have been forgiven are quicker to extend that same type of love to others. Those who think they are righteous do not understand the depth of love that Jesus has shown us. Luke 7:36-50 NLT

  12. SFDBWV says:

    Vivian I am going to share a humorous comment I heard in the movie “The Ghost and the Darkness”. Stated by a young Irish Colonel in the British Army as he was departing for Africa and saying goodbye to his wife.

    “God created whiskey so the Irish couldn’t rule the world.”

    I hope you take the comment in jest as it is meant to be and not offended.

    Here in my area of America most of the earliest immigrants to inhabit the Appalachian Mountain range were Scotch-Irish and not only were adept at making whiskey, but used it as a currency long before there was an American dollar.

    Just after the United States became a country there was a rebellion here in the mountains called the “Whiskey Rebellion” in which the newly formed government had to shut down the untaxed whiskey trade over the very people who had help defeat the English and forge a new country.

    People here still make “moonshine” and the government is still trying to put an end to it some 230 years later.

    Moving on to the subject at hand;

    Jesus said that he would be accused of being a drunk (wine bibber) just because he drank wine. On the “Day of Pentecost” the people in the upper room were thought to be drunk. Solomon stated that a poor man drank to forget his poverty and a sick man to forget his pain. So people have been judging others for their use of alcohol for about as long as there have been both people and spirited drink.

    We can take anything and if it takes over our lives and we abuse the use of it we can become a slave to it. Whether it is alcohol, drugs, pornography, eating, any number of activities including work. How we escape the clutches of addiction is found first in wanting to.

    I have never been in any church service that did not include an altar call, where a person could publicly walk to the altar but secretly lay their burden on the Lord along with prayer from the Pastor and congregation.

    I will share one story before I go.

    Years ago when my dad was in the hospital dying of cancer I stayed with him every day from morning to afternoon before I would go to work. One day he ask me if I would to go and visit a friend of his who was also there dying as well as his friend “Curt” rarely had visitors.

    So I immediately went. Curt (Curtis) was very happy to see me and talked on and on about his association with my grandfather. On one such visit there was another fellow there visiting and so Curt ask us both what we would do if someone called us in the middle of the night and said they wanted to kill themselves because of being an alcoholic.

    The other fellow said he would call his pastor, and I said I would go to the caller’s house and set and listen to him. Because I had already done just that many times.

    Curt is the fellow I mentioned earlier as being a member of AA and giving credit to the organization for sobering him up. He smiled and his face lit up and said to me that was the exactly right thing to do and what being in AA gave to him, someone to listen, and someone to share without condemning.

    He died a few days later and so did my dad.


  13. poohpity says:

    Even in the program they give credit to God as in step 2. It seems when people take credit for the pseudo change like they can stop using or abusing but attitudes or behaviors remain the same they end up with what is called white knuckle sobriety which is usually displayed with anger, lack of forgiveness, bitterness, self pity, self abasement and resentment. God can really change hearts, ways of thinking and ways of living giving us a whole new perspective of God, ourselves, circumstances and others.

  14. jeff1 says:

    No offence taken Steve. In regards to your ‘moonshine’ our equivalent here is poitin which is illegal but I think there are still parts were you could get it.

    While it is difficult for alcoholics it is also difficult for their family for the person can be abusive and also its like a roller coaster ride for the person can be off it for a long time and any upset can put them back on it. I think the family probably need specialized help too.

    The cost of all this is the greatest problem for the Health Service which is already struggling with costs. People from the poorer backgrounds are unable to pay for private treatment and waiting lists are lengthy for the NHS.

    That would be perhaps a way the Church could help addicts by offering financial help to assist them.

  15. saled says:

    During the past week there was an article printed in the Huffington Post titled The Cause of Addiction Has Been Discovered and It’s Not What You Think. The article is well worth the read, and I think explains a lot.

    The author says that one of our basic human needs is bonding or connecting to other people. Lacking the opportunity or ability to do this, we will bond with substances. In short, whole people, people who are truly connected to others, don’t have problems with addictions, even after being given drugs to deal with pain.

    I think there is truth in this. I think it explains AA’s success. AA provides an opportunity to connect with others, and the steps are focused on helping you also connect with yourself. And until that happens, you aren’t going to have the ability to connect with someone else.

    I have always struggled with connecting to others. Remember the old Bee Gee’s song I Started A Joke? Well, that has been my theme song. In Thoreau’s words, I certainly follow a different drummer. And it is hard. There is a Bible verse about those who are afar off being brought near. That is my hope. In heaven I’ll be connected.

  16. joycemb says:

    Saled that is a very moving post you have made. I understand on so many levels. However the only One I have found I can really connect with is Jesus. For years I prayed Lord please send me a companion- man or woman I didn’t care, I just wanted someone who GOT me and could make my life on the planet a little less lonely. I do have a best friend but she lives a ways away now so we don’t see each other but every few months. Not having the energy to move again I have found myself leaning harder than ever on Jesus. For this part of my spiritual journey I am reading God Is Enough by Hannah Whitall Smith. Also the writings of Henri Nouwen are a good guide for the solitary unfulfilled life. I do think the article you mentioned is on to something also. Blessings, Joyce

  17. phpatato says:

    My thoughts and prayer to all possible 60 million people in the track of this “historic” storm. I pray the hydro stays connected so that homes that use hydro can stay warm. For my fellow BTAers on the north east coast, Stay safe and please…touch base with us when you can to let us know you are ok!



  18. poohpity says:

    There is a medical model for addiction that teaches it is a disease, past down through generations like diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, etc.. The treatment they have for the disease has been shown to work but God also heals the disease. The substance that can cause death during the withdrawal phase is alcohol but the rest of the treatment can be done outside the walls of a treatment center. I did it in the back of my van with a 6 month old and a 2 year old child, homeless and all I had was the Lord who changed my life completely, my desires, my thinking and gave me courage and I was totally dependent on Him. The very first thing I had to do is the same for anybody you have to see you need help just like the very thing one does when they accept Christ acknowledging their need for help and then follow.

    To many want to run everything and everybody never learning to follow but rather spending their lives controlling. It is imperative admitting to being out of control. My life was the way it was because I would not listen to anyone and just had to do it my way it was not until I opened up to being lead that things began to change, dieing to self.

  19. fadingman says:

    Saled, the bonding thing sounds right on. AA is called a fellowship, and the community of believers is also a fellowship. With AA, it’s “Keep Coming Back”. Those who don’t come back are more likely to go back to the bottle.

    As Christians, we’re also told not to stop meeting together for mutual encouragement (Hebrews 10:24-25). It’s the picture of the lonely coal going out or the group of coals helping each other stay hot.

  20. joycemb says:

    Heb. 10:24-25 was written by Paul at a time of great persecution from both Jews and Gentiles where some being fearful of death (like Peter had been at Christ’s crucifixion) were leaving the fledgling church. Paul’s letter is to encourage them to stay together to help each other out during the time of great persecution. It certainly can be applied to the church today in the US as far as encouraging one another, but was definitely written under frightening circumstances, as are being played out in some places in the Middle East and Africa.

    As I said earlier, how we gather together, such as this blog, was not available when the letter to the Hebrews was written. They only gathered in house churches, currently we have so many other options, for how long we don’t know. History does tend to repeat itself.

  21. poohpity says:

    Ecclesiastes 4:11-12 NLT

  22. jeff1 says:

    Saled what you are saying about being connected. I find this very strange but over the years I cannot help being surprised how I have met people and right from the start we make a connection and we can talk like we knew each other for years. While equally there is people I know for years and I never feel that kind of connection too. I think I found it easier to connect when I was younger my best friend I met when I was 5 and we are still friends today at 60. Age has brought cynicism towards others I don’t like it in myself but if I am honest with myself it is there.

  23. SFDBWV says:

    Here in my life I have found there to be three types of alcoholics. The social drinker who has a full life at their favorite bar and plenty of friends, the non-social drinker who does so in secret, and the one who denies being an alcoholic.

    It is almost humorous now that drugs often accompany drinking that people who have lots of cars coming and going at their houses are suspected of dealing drugs, not just having lots of friends.

    One thing is for certain once you become a professing Christian, over time all your old friend’s disappear.

    Equally humorous is that if you listen in to many conversations among social drinkers the topic is often religion, and of course politics.

    If I understand “Weight Watchers” I do believe they also have a support structure in place to help each other.

    It seems simple enough, people who suffer from any addiction can find empathy from others who are experiencing the same emotions and temptations as they and not only can discuss the matter together, but help each other through their moments of weakness.

    What do you suppose would happen if you called your Pastor or one of the members of your church and ask for help as you were considering having sex with another parishioner?

    Or that you believed yourself to be homosexual, or was thinking of taking advantage of another person because you can.

    Would you be met with sympathy, talked to, prayed for or put on the next church gossip bulletin board as one who is backsliding?

    Sometimes the only person you can share your most intimate fears and weaknesses with is God, and so become a solitary private person with no social outlet except perhaps with a professional therapist, when all you really need is that friend who will listen and not condemn.

    15 degrees, just finished plowing.


  24. saled says:

    jeff1 I have noticed the same pattern about connections in myself. I find it easy to initially relate, but it rarely goes deeper into a real friendship. And at nearly 60, I have the same cynicism that you mention. But I don’t blame others anymore. I know they are God’s children too, and someday I hope He will create those new relationships. For now,Joyce, I know you are on the right track. Jesus is so much more than we need. That is certainly a relationship to cultivate.

    Our blizzard has begun in Down East Maine, Pat. The warnings are up for another 20 hours or so, but already I am amazed by the severity of the storm. You know those stories about farmers getting lost on the way to the barn? I can see how that could happen here today. I appreciate your prayers for the power to stay on. So far so good.

  25. remarutho says:

    Thanks for the good report, Saled.

    The Bible study I attend Mon. evenings lifted you all in prayer for safety — power to stay on — provision — and the folks who must brave all that wind, snow and freezing temps without shelter.

  26. foreverblessed says:

    Saled, you story touched my heart! God bless you, and make you whole in spirit, soul and body. Phil 1:9-11. That is my prayer for you, and for us all. But you talked about your problems, and thanks for that, now I can pray more for you.

    When we start out as a christian, we initially tell everything to Jesus. He does not condemn, as Steve wrote too. He takes all our wrongs, our sins, our shortcomings from our shoulders, and He gives His Spirit of love and peace instead. What a great deal that is, too good to be true, but it is so true.
    Christ in us, the mystery of the Gospel, Col 1

    But as we grow in love in Jesus, we get stronger, and it is more easy to tell of your own weaknesses. But do not hurry in sharing, be strong in Jesus first.

    But wouldn’t it be nice if our burdens could be shared in church much more.
    Before I chose a new church to go to, I often went to church conferences, and there people share much more easily of all their loads and sins. And praying together in circles. Great things happened.
    I was looking for a closer church in my home town, and while I was looking I found out that people are much more reserved.
    I pray things change. It would be nice to be having the bread and wine every week, and before we take it, we talk of our struggles, and about reconcilation.
    And then take the bread and the wine, in remembrance of Jesus, what He did for us all, all of us in Him and He in us.
    (That is also a mystery, the Bride and Jesus)

  27. foreverblessed says:

    God be with you in the snowstorms!

    I would like to tell some of my struggles. 10 years ago I had problems with my heart, rythm unregularity. The doctor asked if I drank coffee, and then said; Well try to do without coffee.
    Immediately when he said that I felt in my heart that the Holy Spirit was saying to me: Yes, I want you to do that, and not only coffee.
    I drank only two cups in the morning, around 11, but boy, what a struggle I had in not drinking. I found out that to make my day, I had to have the coffee, Not just enjoy it, no, I longed for it, more then I would long for fellowship and intimicy with Jesus. In other words, the coffee was an idol to me. I never knew I was addicted. It took me more then two years to get over that yearning feeling.

    This morning we sang in the church, a oecomenical gathering int eh downtown big church hall
    Like a deer pants for water
    It would have sounded: like a lady who yearns for coffee in the morning, so my soul yearns for You.
    That we may yearn for being close to Jesus, that we may bond to Him more and more. That He may strengthen us any time when we look in faith up to Him.
    And we will bond together more and more as fellow christians. It is the Bride we all are together. Eph 5:32

  28. poohpity says:

    I was thinking that when Jesus confronted the crowd on the verge of stoning the woman caught in adultery had He said, “only those who have never committed adultery cast the first stone” I bet many could have thrown a stone but rather He said, ““Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”. (John 8:7) When we spend more time looking within rather than at everybody else that is what keeps us humble and dependent on God to remove those things in us that need work and every single person has areas that are under construction. A beautiful work in progress and what God started He will complete (Phil 1:6) Step 12 carrying this message to all the fellow sinners out there what a message with sharing.

    When we admit we can’t but God can so allow Him as we share our struggles, battles, faults and failures essentially our humanity. It would seem that there would be more humble servants and less ego inflated, finger pointers.

  29. joycemb says:

    Our Daily Bread posted this on FB today, WE ARE NOT BEYOND HIS REACH

    Perfect for all of us who don’t blend well within our culture! Blessings, Joyce

  30. joycemb says:

    On FB my name is Brown and I always wear a cross.

  31. rokdude5 says:

    Good morning everyone. I dont know what was said the first time this topic was mentioned therefore its a good chance I might be repeating something that some one else may have said. The 12 step program was started in 1935 by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith. Both were alcoholics.

    Bill Wilson visited an old drinking buddy who had been sober for several weeks under the guidance of the evangelical Christian Oxford Group. Later will Bill was lying in bed trying to recover from the delirium tremens had an epiphanic moment. He never drank again from that moment.

    Later the temptation of drinking started to rise in Bill so he call Dr Bob Smith who was listed in the church directory of the Oxford Group. Eventually the two formed Alcoholic Anonymous. Dr Bob as a child was forced to attend church 4 times a week. Later he became disillusioned with church and wanted never ever attend church again.

    The 12 step program can be applied to any addiction since its the brokenness of relationships that typically drives someone to some sort of addiction.

    So to me, with all of that Christian underpinning of the 12 step program, it should drive a lot of folks to attend church. Could it lead it away from church? I would say yes if there is some sort of dysfunction in the church itself. And we all know there are a lot of dysfunctional churches out there. Now we need to learn to recognize a “healthy” functional church and an “unhealthy” dysfunctional church. Though I dont know what drove Dr Smith away from church but there was some sort of dysfunction somewhere.

  32. street says:

    thanks rj

    i am glad God loves and saves dysfunctional sinners. the part that is interesting to me is sometimes the healing is dramatic and shocking and other are slow and painful. much like a tabloid at the checkout counter.

  33. jeff1 says:

    I believe that surrendering to God is where I struggle, I have believed in God all my life but it was simple as that for me, my Church was Christ focused so I had no reason to change it especially since I heard what other Churches were teaching at the time were very divisive. I would still worry after I was suppose to be trusting God, this is still hard for me today, it is a battle of the mind for me. I trust God for my salvation but its in the living now that I need to trust God with. My mind tends to wander and then I get confused about what God is saying. I become fearful with the confusion that Satan will take me away from God. This is partly because when I was in a psychotic state my friend had told me that it was God who saved me. I have this fear of getting into that state again as it is a very terrifying place to be. Sorry for going away from the topic.

  34. poohpity says:

    jeff1, nothing or no one can take you away from God. God is so big and there is nothing that is strong enough, that is powerful enough to snatch you from His mighty hand once you are His. John 10:28-30 NLT

  35. poohpity says:

    Also Romans 8:38-39 NLT

  36. joycemb says:

    Vivien I remember how I used to mistrust Gods ability to hold on to me also, but when I learned to tell Him my fears of being abandoned God always showed up to prove me wrong. Sometimes it was a song, sometimes a random poem found at 3 am just like a warm hug from Him. The confusion always tells me it is Satan, because he is a liar and the father of lies. I no longer believe anything he says that causes me anxiety and mistrust of God. Gods job is love; Satans job is to confuse, steal, kill, and destroy our peace in Christ. Hold fast dear one.

  37. street says:

    been thinking about dysfunction in people and the church. i find this gets people down and for good reason. our focus is on failure, disappointment, or discouragement. then the questions and doubt appear. the real failure is not asking for help or not turning to the One behind the circumstances. the Champion did promise and we did understand correctly. the choice is what we do with the promise. trust Him or venture out without him? trusting Him has been difficult for me, but through the wrestling i have come to know and understand myself and Him better. it was and is always worth it because He never fails. people cry during sorrow and joy. i think of it watering the ground that is blessed by God’s Spirit. Matthew 5 speaks of this. anything that gives peace or joy apart from Jesus is a lie or false hope.

  38. joycemb says:

    Beautiful street.

    Vivien do you know what triggers your psychosis? I have had a few episodes myself mostly caused by tragedy or well-meaning but judgemental Christians. Do you have any control over your circumstances right now?

  39. jeff1 says:

    I know this in my heart Joyce, God has showed up in ways I cannot explain to anyone it only makes sense to me, I just need to get it right in my head. Thank you for your encouragement.

    Also Pooh for your verses.

    What you say Street about through the wrestling I have come to know and understand myself and God better. I have been a disappointment to myself but it is in knowing God loves me despite of this that makes me feel better about myself.

  40. jeff1 says:

    Joyce your post 2.52 pm I have had no episodes in a long time I have been told that it is brought on by stress so I try not to get overwrought. My sons have straightened their lives out so that has taken a lot of stress away. I have taken on some voluntary work as paid work was becoming too stressful. I am very contented and thankful that God does not condemn me for my failures.

  41. joycemb says:

    Me too! As moms we will always worry/care how our children are doing; glad you have a respite. I too do some volunteer work but only a couple hours a week as that’s all I am able anymore.

  42. Regina says:

    Good Evening All,
    Pray all is well in your lives. Enjoyed reading your comments on this blog topic. Had a couple of relatives (an aunt and an uncle) who I know were alcoholics, but neither was the type of person who could adhere to the
    “in your face” type of discipline required to complete a 12 step program like AA. Read the 12 steps that Mart shared in his intro comment, and I know many are grateful that the two men who started the program, had the courage to help themselves and others who struggle with this dreaded disease. Want to share a bit of my own personal testimony here… My parents never drank, and I’ve never had anything stronger that a soft drink. My home life was dysfunctional when I was a child, but it was not due to alcoholism.

    63 degrees in Dallas right now.

    Love to all,

  43. SFDBWV says:

    Christianity to me is a “one” step program; surrender.

    Through this surrender we are empowered, not defeated.

    Once empowered there is no power on earth nor in heaven that can defeat us or take the empowerment away from us.

    Though life is filled with pain and suffering, disappointments and struggles, Philippians 4:4, 5, 6, 7 tells us the peace we receive through Jesus doesn’t make sense to the world nor worldly thinking.

    That doesn’t mean that we won’t struggle, it means because we struggle God is fighting for us and at the end of the rainbow there really is a pot of gold.

    Just want to say about or topic, that it is up to each one of us to be the kind of friend we want others to be toward us, so let it begin with me/you.

    9 degrees and just finished plowing again. 8 inches of snow on the ground.


  44. saled says:

    Our blizzard is ending here Down East. Schools and many businesses are still closed, but life will begin to get back to normal today. Thank you for all the prayers for the millions affected by this storm. In my area, almost everyone stayed home or found a place to sleep at work. My nephew plows the local roads and told us that he literally met no traffic as he plowed during the first 8 hours of the storm.

    Thank you to everyone for the great discussion on this topic and your encouraging words. Maybe this sense of our need of connection is a necessary part of being human. Lots of different ways of trying to meet that need. I find a lot of peace in the Bible verse where Paul says that all things are ours in Jesus. In Him we will find the ultimate connection.

  45. remarutho says:

    Good Morning BTA Friends —

    It seems to me any gathering of Jesus-followers must look like Mart’s description of an AA fellowship:

    “…sitting together in broken love.”

    “…immediately feeling accepted and affirmed not because of our successes, but because of shared need.”

    “…opening ourselves to spirituality by praying together,

    surrendering to God as we understand him,

    listening to one another,

    admitting wrongs,

    making restitution where possible,

    asking and depending on the Spirit of God to restore thoughtfulness and self control,

    helping one another,

    and rediscovering a sense of purpose in living to help others.”

    These things have given me something to think about when it comes to gathering as the church that Jesus founded in love.

    Blessings all day,

  46. poohpity says:

    It seems when one only focuses on “alcoholism” the spiritual application to our lives in general can get missed. I would have never came to Jesus in the first place without first admitting that I needed His grace.

    Step 1. Admitting I am a sinner and my life was all messed up. (Ecc 7:20 NLT; Roman 3:23 NLT; 2 Cor 1:9 NLT)

    Step 2. Came to believe that God wants to help. (John 3:16 NIV; 1 John 4:10 NLT)

    Step 3. Turn my life over to God. (Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV)

    Step 4. Take a good look inside. (Lam 3:40; Gal 6:4 NLT)

    Step 5. Admit to God, yourself and to others your faults, failures and sins. (Luke 18:13-14 NLT; James 5:16 NLT)

    Step 6. Submit yourself to God can and He will change us. (James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:6 NIV)

    Step 7. Humbly ask God to remove our shortcomings. (Psalm 32:5 NIV; 1 John 1:9 NIV)

    Step 8. Made a list of all the people we have harmed and be willing to make amends. (Matt 5:23-24 NIV; Mark 11:25 NIV)

    Step 9. Make direct amends whenever possible unless to do so would harm them. (Mark 11:25 NIV)

    Step 10. Continue to look within so when we are wrong admit it quickly. (1 John 1:9 NIV)

    Step 11. Through prayer, meditation and reading the bible grow in knowledge about/of God, (2 Peter 1:2-3 NIV; 2 Peter 3:18 NIV)

    Step 12. Spread the good news of what God has done for you and all mankind. (Matt 28:19 NIV; Mark 16:15 NIV)

  47. fadingman says:

    Those who are part of AA do not just attend meetings. There is also the personal accountability aspect, with its sponsor/sponsee relationship.

    Anyone who has clean time can sponsor another. From what I’ve seen, sponsees are not ‘assigned’ a sponsor. The sponsee asks someone to be his/her sponsor.

    One sponsor many have several sponsees, but the relationship between them is always one-on-one. They work together to go through the 12 steps. I see this as the way discipleship should work.

    It is not just the responsibility of the church leadership to train other believers. We’re all gifted by God in some way to help build up the church. Too many times we think of serving in ministry as taking part in a church or para-church program. But discipleship can and should also be one-on-one with personal accountability.

  48. jeff1 says:

    Steve your 7.34 am post 28/01/15

    That doesn’t mean that we won’t struggle, it means because we struggle God is fighting for us and at the end of the rainbow there really is a pot of gold.

    It’s really hard for me to imagine heaven as I don’t have an artistic or creative streak in me. I am envious of those who can look at an ugly old building and they can envisage the new building after they have spent time and effort putting it to right.

    I feel that way about myself at times I can put on a face and smile but the inside does not match the outward appearance. I realize that what you say is right about treating others as you want them to treat you. The struggle for me is between knowing I should feel on top of the World and envisaging being on top of the World. Not sure if I am making any sense.

  49. phpatato says:

    Hi Viven

    You commented to Steve that it is really hard for you to imagine heaven, as you don’t have an artistic or creative streak in you…well I am the same. There isn’t an artist’s bone in my body so it was hard for me to envision heaven and what it will be like.

    Awhile back, I received a booklet from Discovery Series – which is part of RBC Ministries (now Our Daily Bread Ministries) – written by Richard W. De Haan (Mart’s Dad) called “Our Eternal Home”. If you can get your hands on a copy of this little booklet, I am sure it can help you envision what heaven is like. It helped me picture in my mind what a glorious beautiful place our future home will be like.


  50. joycemb says:

    Vivien our Lord went through those feelings at the Garden at Gethsemane. Heaven is hard to imagine at these times; even for those of us with colorful imaginations!
    Am I understanding you correctly?

  51. joycemb says:

    Pat I will get that booklet, sounds good and I am sure it will be Biblically based.

  52. joycemb says:

    Another spring- like day in Mn. 35 and foggy with no snow on the ground; very unusual but good for some although we need a certain amount of snow to protect pipes from freezing and to give the fields enough moisture to sustain plant growth. One persons poison is another persons blessing.

  53. poohpity says:

    I guess I have never thought for one minute we are not to be honest about how we feel and put a smile on when we are frowning inside. I know for me and from what I know of God honesty about what we are thinking and feeling helps so very much getting. God can handle it all and so can people who really care. Being fake to me says it is not OK to be who God created us to be. Honesty is the best medicine.

  54. poohpity says:

    I just got the call from my doc the thing she removed was Squamous Cell Carcinoma but she got it all out. I need to follow up with a dermatologist to do a full body check which is a big examine, lol. Then we need to keep an eye on it. Thank you again for your prayers.

  55. phpatato says:


    It is all Biblically based. An excerpt from it’s pages:

    “….every Christian is a citizen of a heavenly city – a city more dazzling and beautiful than anyone on earth has ever seen. Its streets shimmer with gold and its jeweled walls and foundations glow in a spectrum of colour. We are told that it is free from evil of all kinds, and nothing in it will ever tarnish or decay.” (pg 9)

    It goes on to give a description of its beauty both on the outside with its jasper walls, jeweled foundations and its gates of pearl, as well as on the inside, with its golden street, crystal river and its Tree of Life. Our blessed Home – no sin, no death, nor sorrow, no tears, no pain, no night, no curse.

    It really is a wonderful booklet.

    It has me singing the chorus to the song Mansion over the Hilltop now. :-)

    I’ve got a mansion just over the hilltop
    In that bright land where we’ll never grow old
    And someday yonder, we’ll never more wander
    But walk on streets that are purest gold

    Another sunny but chilly day here in Eastern Ontario Canada. 20F with a wind chill of 13F, low tonight of -2F. Snow in the forecast tomorrow – 4-8 inches. I can still see the grass under the trees. Low snow amount but it has been a chilly winter so far. The world’s largest outdoor skating rink, the Rideau Canal Skateway, is open its full 7.8km or 4.8 mile length and conditions are listed as good.


  56. phpatato says:

    I don’t know about that Deb. What you say about wearing a frown when feeling like a frown on the inside….that may be ok for an afternoon or a day, maybe two tops. But, if you ever suffered depression, clinical depression, like I did for over 15 years, wearing a frown every single day, would definitely have a negative effect on those you love. I was very adept at wearing a happy face in front of my elderly and dying mom and dad, even though I was wearing a sad face, frown face and crying face inside. There was no way ever I would ever show them anything but a smile because if I were to wear a sad face, they would fret that I was sad. For my children’s happiness, I wore a smile as best I could whenever I could. It was difficult at times but that’s what I think a good mom does. No one wants to be around a chronic sad face – just like no one wants to be around a chronic complainer. It pulls a person down to be around a miserable human being day in and day out. And if that is being a fake, so be it, as far as I’m concerned. Remember 15 years is a long time to wear a frown every single day and unless you suffered its ravages, you have no idea.

    Glad you got a good report from the doctor.

  57. jeff1 says:

    Pat 2.18 pm 28/01/15

    Thank you will see if I can get it.

    Yes Joyce, you did get me right.

    Pooh,you are not understanding, when I said that I put a smile on some days it is not with people I know just people who I come in contact with like when I go into a shop I try to put on a smile for the person behind the counter. I am not being fake I am trying to be pleasant to someone I don’t know for how would that person know, or I expect them to know that I suffer with mental illness. Also I am being honest for God knows when I am miserable inside as you said yourself I cannot hide these feelings from him.

    God also knows that I have inherited my illness as my brother suffered from Schizophrenia from he has a teenager until he died in 2011.

    Maybe the reason I don’t share with many people other than family and friends is that I find they are very judgemental.
    I once heard a man I worked with saying that someone who suffered with depression just needed a kick up the backside.

    My sister-in-law had no empathy for her daughter who suffered with depression because she said she did not understand what depression was. I find that people who don’t know what depression is are very cynical of those that have. Proving that groups like the AA are very necessary for people to feel safe and able to talk about their difficulties.

  58. phpatato says:


    I hear you loud and clear. My marriage almost crumbled because my husband did not understand depression. Only God’s grace and protection kept me alive and kept our marriage together; although it was very very rocky at one point. “kick up the backside”….I heard “pull up your socks”. I got tired of trying to pull up my socks so I took them off. :-)

    Today in Canada it’s Bell Lets Talk day. Bell Canada is a or is the largest telecommunications company in the country. For every tweet and retweet using #BellLetsTalk, Bell will donate 5 cents toward mental health initiatives. It’s about time for the stigma to end and for people to begin to talk.

    God Bless


  59. poohpity says:

    I guess with all the counseling I have had and being a counselor I have found that the more people are honest with their emotions and the thought processes behind most of them healing comes, the truth will set you free. Actually smiling can help the body produce feel good hormones (endorphins). Like I said I would just rather people be honest about their feelings if they aren’t then hopelessness can set in trying to hide all the time. I am also not saying that there are times when sharing those feelings is inappropriate. That is just me not saying any else needs to be that way.

    Reading the Psalms and how honest David was with God I found it to be a very good example. I can not imagine someone coming in to talk with me and not be honest with what they are going through pretty pointless to say the least.

    Pat, I never felt like a cancer diagnosis is a good report. See how different we are.

  60. phpatato says:

    I’m sorry Deb if I misunderstood. When I read ” but she got it all out”, I thought back to my husband’s surgeon when he told him after his cancer surgery, I got it all. That was August 29, 2000. So to me reading what you wrote, was a good report.

    I am sorry.

  61. poohpity says:

    That was a mass on my arm which came up very quickly(over 10 weeks) and rather than go to a dermatologist I went directly to a surgeon and have not had the rest of my body looked at yet. I lost my mom from that same type of cancer but we could not see hers because it was inside and from the time she was diagnosed until she passed was 10 months. So for me until I have the rest of my body checked it is not good news but scary news. So now I understand where you are coming from and thank you for helping me to see your view point and I hope you can understand mine.

  62. joycemb says:

    Pat I so agree about ending the stigma of MI. I heard it is National MI Week in the US also. I think until one is confronted with it they either have an opportunity to learn about it or just ignore it and the sufferer. In my own family Pat and Vivien Mi was rampant. I too lost a brother in 2000 with Schizophrenia and DID along with his abusing prescription drugs for chronic migraines and seizures from abuse. He was a Christian with a beautiful Christian wife who loved him so unconditionally that when she died of Lupus he really fell apart and overdosed a few years later. Such brave people are those who struggle so much in ways most cannot even imagine, as have both of you. Proud to know you! Blessings, Joyce

    Pooh will continue to pray for you, blessings to you also.

  63. jeff1 says:

    Pooh, your 8.11 pm 28/01/15

    I guess with all the counselling I have had and being a counsellor I have found that the more people who are honest with their emotions and the thought processes behind most of them healing comes, the truth will set you free.

    The truth that has set me free is that God loves me, the proof he loves me Christ crucified.

    While I am in the flesh I will have difficulties, either caused by others, myself, or inherited. God knows all this he asks me to trust him, Christ crucified, Christ risen, Christ will come again, the reason I can trust God.

    God has set me free from my own ignorance, other peoples ignorance and inherited ignorance from culture.

    What I suffer because of that will be nothing to eternity in heaven.

    I do not feel completely free, my mental state being my problem, in my rational moments I know I am free from any condemnation from God, but the reality of living in a community that is very ignorant of mental illness takes its toil.

    My father, God rest him, always told me to remember that God was with me in my suffering, he said if you suffer remember you are in good company.

    Not all suffering is from God, I discovered that by living in a violent and hate driven Country. I got caught up in that hate so I know what it is like to be on Satan’s side through my own ignorance, my father did try to warn me.

    That being said it now makes me realize how easy it is to be
    lead astray and what God is telling me now is to have patience with those today who are still ignorant like I once was.

    God has not only given me peace in my heart but patience to endure others who have yet to know that they too are forgiven for their wrong doing.

    God showed me that while I had hope and faith, I did not have love in my heart.

    My Utmost for His Highest says it today when I read
    1 Corinthians 13.

    God has shown me I must learn to love, faith, hope and love but the greatest of all is love.

  64. SFDBWV says:

    Probably having said all I am going to about the initial subject of AA, its 12 step program and its relationship to Christianity, I have been following the conversation between Vivian, Pat, Joyce and pooh.

    Let me first say in response to Vivian to me about not being able to visualize heaven. Speaking only from me, I see heaven more in what it is *not* rather than what it may be.

    Pat has given a very good Biblical account of the Heavenly City as well as what is missing, but I will elaborate from my own concept.

    There are no more crippled people, whether physically or mentally.

    There are no more cancer wards filled with little children.

    There are no more broken hearts.

    There is no more hunger, nor thirst.

    There are no more tears…for any reason.

    One thing that I expect to see there other than Our Lord is all of my loved ones who have gone on before me. Oh what a joyous reunion.

    Every woman who lost a child even those children lost in miscarriages together again.

    The understanding of and answers to every question we ever raised in our lifetime to God.

    Peace in our bodies, minds and spirits.


    I do hope Vivian you too can see what I see in that far off shore we call heaven.


  65. SFDBWV says:

    From my understanding the one thing a person who considers themselves mentally healthy must understand is that people who appear not to be, are not anymore able to be someone else than are they.

    We are who we are.

    People with chemical imbalances or any form of mental illness cannot control or change their situation, just by wanting to; though I am certain they all want to desperately.

    My wife Glenna has dealt with depression all of her life, she copes with it by a combination of medication, love and purpose.

    My son, given his condition of having brain trauma, suffers a multitude of mental issues as well as being depressed. He asks for death every day and often complains about having ever been born.

    Others may not agree, but I consider myself to be mentally healthy and so our family life is one of love having the highest order, above all else.

    So yes we are honest with each other, but we always put on a smile and not a frown, for each other.

    Life here is like life everywhere else, we dance.

    Not in the actual action of dancing, but rather in leading and following in synchrony with each other’s feelings and needs.

    The dance of life.

    We are allowed to laugh, to cry, to get angry, to be ourselves while we accept each other for who we are and love each other in spite of whatever differences we may have.

    I want so desperately to be able to heal everyone’s pain, that it itself becomes my on private pain and so prayer.

    A prayer for others.

    8 degrees and the promise of 8 more inches of snow tonight.


  66. poohpity says:

    There is beauty all around us now. There are praiseworthy things we can focus on now. There are kind people now. There are all kinds of things we can smile about and that can bring joy to our hearts. Now we have a choice what we are going to fill our minds with all the ugly or make an effort to find things that are lovely, pure and beautiful to think about. We can dwell on all the bad things that have happened in our lives or look at the lessons we have learned and see how God has turned things around. The choice is ours. Make a choice to complain and grumble or find things to be grateful for.

    Frankly anybody would feel depressed if all they thought about is the ugly without seeing the pretty.

  67. street says:

    38 John said to Him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we tried to prevent him because he was not following us.” 39 But Jesus said, “Do not hinder him, for there is no one who will perform a miracle in My name, and be able soon afterward to speak evil of Me. 40 For he who is not against us is for us. 41 For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because of your name as followers of Christ, truly I say to you, he will not lose his reward.

  68. joycemb says:

    Pooh said: Frankly anybody would feel depressed if all they thought about is the ugly without seeing the pretty.

    Those with clinical depression and other MI along with TBI would love to be able to THINK pretty thoughts but are not able, much like a person with paralysis is not able to move by THINKING if they can they will. This is the problem with many people who can’t understand Mi.
    (Just to clarify this is not meant for Pooh personally, just elaborating on a common misperception among the general population).

    Steve I can see you get it.

    Blessings to all and I was thinking last night about your mother Pooh as my mother also died from Cancer in 2008. Seems we all have more in common than not here.
    Love you all, Joyce

  69. SFDBWV says:

    If you have ever been to an art gallery what you see are various forms of art that present the artist’s view of how they *see* things.

    What you hear from others viewing the art is how they view, what they believe the artist sees.

    Everyone has a different view.

    One of the more famous paintings around today is “The Scream” (Der Schrei der natur) or in English “The Scream of Nature” by Edvard Munch.

    Anyone who views it will immediately form their own feelings of what it expresses for *them*.

    This is true for all people. Whether considered *normal* or not.

    True mental illness is a very sad condition for the people who suffer it and those who love them. They cannot control how they view the world or how they react to it. Their illness controls them.

    I believe God has such people in a protected spiritual posture and not guilty for they actions.

    In fact I believe God may view us *normal* people as being mentally ill as well and a slave to the power of sin that controls us. After all what normal person would choose hell over heaven.

    The gift we can receive as followers of Jesus is to see the sin in others as a mental condition they cannot control and love them anyway. Help them and take care of them and bless them, without laying a condition on them of judging them as sinners instead of being sick and in need of “The Great Physician”.

    Show patience with all and perhaps silence the sting that the tongue often brings, with a smile of love and understanding instead.


  70. joycemb says:

    I Cor. 1:26-29 fits perfectly, doesn’t it? Thanks to F. Buechner today for this reminder.

  71. SFDBWV says:

    Thank you Joyce, we *see* a lot of things in the same light. I was creating while you were posting.

    Expecting some nasty freezing rain and sleet in the next few hours, before turning over to all snow. Just finished talking to the National Weather Service. Spring can’t come soon enough for me.


  72. joycemb says:

    Steve every time I look at that painting I think of the desolation of internal pain that only the one suffering can understand or cope with. I also think of Van Gogh and the beauty that came from his own suffering. Whether we are helpers or just listeners the greatest gift we have is the love of God in Christ Jesus to share; who loves us perfectly no matter what imperfections we have; and we ALL have imperfections.

  73. poohpity says:

    I am in total disagreement about not being able to change thinking. It is possible, very possible and in fact is proven to be true for many thousands even millions in fact since there are billions of Christians I would say billions. When one learns new things thinking is changed and minds can be transformed. Even equating thinking with physical limitations is absurd. When one admits to a problem it is the first step to change and God is totally able. I am not talking about positive thinking I am talking about learning to look at situations, circumstances and abilities in a new light and with a humble dependence on God.

    There are many who do not change because they do the same ol’, same ol’ all the time and have people around them who enable them to stay stagnant. Medication with counseling has helped many who have all sorts of SMI and to say it is any different is just plain ignorance. Having a relationship with the Lord is growing, changing, progressive and we are never left as we were. We replace the old way of thinking with all kinds of new stuff but we have to participate in the process.

    Nothing changes if nothing changes.

  74. jeff1 says:

    Your post 7.25 am 29/01/15

    You are right there Steve Heaven is more easy seen by looking at what we would not miss on this earth. Living daily with our families we know each other’s weaknesses and strengths and although sometimes we may get upset with each other we appreciate each other’s support and honesty in dealing with each other.

    Pooh, I cannot disagree there is beauty all around and I appreciate beauty every day but I must also be honest about the World I see, and parts of it are anything but beautiful.
    As my son once said to me Mum when you go on vacation you pick out the lovely spot, you avoid the poorer area which would not be so nice for a holiday.

    We all want to focus on what’s nice but we cannot turn a blind eye to the ugliness of the World. God requires us to make a difference in a World that does not see the need of him, this requires looking at the dark side, for that is where the need is most.

  75. cas139 says:

    I was very taken with Steve’s comment, “I want so desperately to be able to heal everyone’s pain, that it itself becomes my own private pain and so prayer. A prayer for others” First I thought that is a part of the whole AA concept, at least as I’ve observed it through Al Anon and some family members seeking help to overcome addictions through AA and NA. Though it’s not listed as a specific step, the AA members listen to the pain of others. It seems they have a built in empathy having experienced the pain of addiction themselves. It seems to me judgment is put aside in favor of simply listening and sharing experience.

    The healing comes from dependence on a higher power and, together, walking a path that begins with surrender to God (as the individual understands God), travels through admission of wrongs and weakness, and moves forward toward redemption and, always maintaining connection with God (our redeemer) through prayer and meditation and, ultimately, carrying that message to others in need of redemption.

    Jesus showed us how to recognize the pain of others. He took the pain of humanity to the cross. John 13:34-35 tells us to love each other as He loves us and by this we will be known as his disciples.

    Personally, I have not always been very good at recognizing or empathizing with the pain of others, particularly unseen, inner pain. Today, I am reminded that Jesus expects me to love others as he loves me. Jesus loves me in my strength and in my weakness, in my joy and in my pain. This is how I, also, am to love others.

  76. poohpity says:

    What makes people have the thought of all or nothing? There is evil, ugliness, hatred, anger in the world but we can make the choice of dwelling on those things or thinking about those things that are good, beautiful, kind, peaceful. (Phil 4:8-9 NIV)

    The first step can be Lord I think more about all the evil in the world than I do about the good, help me to change my thinking. Or I find myself grumbling and complaining more I am grateful or thankful help me change. Unless we name/admit to the area that needs work we tend to stay in denial. How can we ever see answers to our prayers for help unless we admit we need help? Or Lord I struggle with anger help me to recognize the primary emotion before I get to the anger. Or Lord I have so much pride that I can not accept help or even ask for it from anyone cause it is embarrassing for me to admit I can not pull my self up by the boot straps and admitting to weakness is cowardly.

    I know I will never be able to perfectly walk with the Lord but He never asked me to. The Lord understands that it is a process and my faith may fail or I may doubt but I know that you are with me through this life and are faithful to me even when I am not.

  77. joycemb says:

    Steve I too remember feeling the same way- wishing I could take the pain of others. I had a lovely neighbor with severe rheumatoid arthritis and I even remembering praying that if God would not heal her please let me take her disease so she could be free of it. I didn’t understand fully how Jesus had already suffered to take away our sin- which was the point of all the healings I read about, to prove that He was the Son of God. I also learned along the way that our suffering can draw us closer to God, if we will let it. So each ones pain and suffering is given or allowed how ever you want to look at it for a purpose, to show the glory of God. Not to discount as Pooh said that for some by changing the way one thinks can also bring glory to God.
    This is my theology of suffering and I don’t expect all to agree.

  78. jeff1 says:

    Yes Joyce I learned too that suffering can draw us closer to God from my own experience. I believe that groups like the AA work better than Churches for victims because they help the sufferer without trying to point the finger as to why they are alcoholics/mentally ill. It seems to be difficult for normal people to do this without making comments that make the person feel they have done something to deserve God’s punishment on them which only hinders the sufferer’s progress in either healing or drawing closer to God.

  79. street says:

    poo said
    I know I will never be able to perfectly walk with the Lord but He never asked me to. The Lord understands that it is a process and my faith may fail or I may doubt but I know that you are with me through this life and are faithful to me even when I am not.
    Matthew 5:48

    joycemb said
    Steve I too remember feeling the same way- wishing I could take the pain of others.

    if i remember scripture correctly Jesus payed the penalty of sin,punishable by the wrath of God, and redeemed us to a very favorable position in Christ. paul was very clear that pain and suffering were difficult at best, but he also knew the results would be better, just like the cross. we know pain and we see suffering, but God knows much better than we do. He took the cross for us. why do we lose sight of His love and sacrifice so quickly? are people drinking from the fountain of doubt? wrestle with the truth for clarification not to get your own way. God bless you as you follow Christ. he told you there would be suffering involved. “He said my power is perfected in weakness.” not in sin.

  80. joycemb says:

    Street could you please restate you thoughts I am probably just too tired to understand you- thanks

  81. joycemb says:

    Street said: He took the cross for us.
    Was he propitiation for our sin, or merely a substitution- his death for ours? Just asking…,

  82. jeff1 says:

    Street that was really what my father told me that suffering though difficult was to be endured. I having said that find it difficult but I truly believe that it is because I lose sight of His love and sacrifice so quickly. That is so true God’s power is perfected in weakness, perhaps that is why when I needed God most I was at my lowest.

    We must try to remember that God is working even when we don’t realise he is, when we despair God can bring good out of our despair but we may not see the good. This is why we should not grumble and complain but except circumstances whether brought on by our own or someone else’s neglect.

    Joyce, God knew we would sin, but we are right with God, Christ took the cross for us. Our salvation is secure no one can take that from us. Living out our lives though we live in a World where not everyone realises this so being in a fallen World there are consequences. In our ignorance sometimes we will get it wrong, us wanting our own way, the World at present is like that which is causing all the division.
    We have to put aside me and let God have his way and through us he can work wonders.

    Thank you Street I must accept and stop wanting my own way, pray that I will do this well that we all will.

  83. poohpity says:

    street, I think you might find with that Matt verse when left in context Jesus was talking about loving our enemies just as He loved us while we were still His enemies that seems to what He was referring to about being perfect. Do you have struggles in following the Lord?

  84. poohpity says:

    Working those steps helps me understand things like Matt 7:1-4 NLT; Luke 6:41-42 NLT or Romans 2:1 NLT. I can say for myself that I will always have areas that need work. In the AA program they say, “sweep off your own door step”

  85. joycemb says:

    I remember attending a Christian 12 step group about 30 years ago but didn’t really apply anything to my life at the time because I was grieving badly and could not hear any truths then. Pain will do that, will cause a person to tune out the rest of the world- it may even cause some to tune out God for a time. Thankfully we have a God who will not let us go when we can’t hang on.

  86. joycemb says:

    By MK Ghandi
    Truth alone will endure, all the rest will be swept away before the tide of time. I must continue to bear testimony to truth even if I am forsaken by all. Mine may today be a voice in the wilderness, but it will be heard when all other voices are silenced, if it is the voice of truth.
    Source: Basic Education

    I think this applies to the truths of the 12 steps.

  87. joycemb says:

    By George McDonald,
    “We look upon God as our last and feeblest resource. We only go to Him when we have nowhere else to go. And then we learn that the storms of life have driven us, not upon the rocks, but into the desired haven.”

  88. cas139 says:

    Joyce, in my experience it is very true that pain can cause a person to tune out the rest of the world…and even God for a time. But, as in the parable of the prodigal son, God waits for our return with open arms.

    I’ve been reading Henri Nouwen’s “Home Tonight” and came across this quote from Julian of Norwich that seemed appropriate to this discussion:

    “If there be anywhere on earth a lover of God is always safe, I know nothing of it, for it was not shown to me. But this was shown: that in falling and rising again we are always kept in the same precious love.”

  89. joycemb says:

    Beautiful quote Christine! I too have read Nouwens book.

    One scripture keeps going through my mind the past 24 hours, Heb. 11:6 . It appears we do have our part in our relationship with God, faith, which seems to be a requirement for relationship with Him. When we lose faith is He still there, waiting? Is He always waiting with open arms to run to scoop us up when we decide to turn toward him? You betcha!

  90. cas139 says:

    Yes, I believe faith is what led me to seek to return an active relationship with God. In my case it was faith that had been planted early in my childhood but had become buried within for many years…something like a dormant seed under the winter snow. There came a time when I finally realized I needed the light of the sun to survive, so I reached for it. Part of the supporting scripture for the Hebrews verse you cited seems to expand on that: Jerimiah 29:12,13, 14.

    One thing I’ve sometimes failed to notice in the prodigal son parable was that the son, in his brokenness sought the father who he remembered loved him before he wandered away.

    Then again, there is the parable of the lost sheep where the good shepherd, Jesus, seeks that one who wandered away from the flock into the wilderness, and carries the wayward sheep home.

    One of my favorite biblical descriptions of God is “steadfast” Psalm 136: 1 RSV “O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures for ever.”

  91. cas139 says:

    Jeremiah 29:12, 13, 14

  92. SFDBWV says:

    Good Saturday to all. I have been very busy dealing with winter weather this week and have had very limited time at the computer, though I have kept up by stopping in and reading over the comments.

    It has been my observation over the several years of participating with BTA that after 3 or 4 days the subject of the topic has reached its limit. Sometimes the thread of conversation can produce a topic of its own that has as good or sometimes better conversation and sometimes it just bottoms out.

    All of which puts Mart in the unenviable position of trying to keep a fresh subject up.

    I most always want to only comment if inspired to or if I feel I can motivate or encourage others. Sometimes when I sense what I may say sounds more negative than positive I just stay silent.

    This thread of conversation sounds good for the participants and is what I think they need to say and share in order to feel better and not so alone with their thoughts.

    I may disagree in one area of thought, but it becomes one of those hair splitting disagreements and not really productive to even bring up, but for the offering of some added thought.

    There is a Bible quote that states “all” things work to the good for those who love the Lord.

    Also when ask was the man was born blind because of some sin in his parent’s life or of some sin in him Jesus said neither some things just “happen”.

    Life sometimes feels like I am standing in the midst of a great whirlwind with everything going by me in such rapid movement that I can scarcely take it all in and all of it out of my control.

    But my Lord not only takes it all in, He can control it as is His will.

    But I do not think that God makes people sick or crippled or causes pain or suffering even for their benefit. What I believe is that in spite of sickness, disabilities, pain and suffering God can and will work out something good from it for the benefit of all. And at the end of all things everyone will receive that new incorruptible eternal body void of all the impurities life in a broken world can produce.

    It is my hope and prayer for those I love and all others as well.

    3 degrees this morning and finally no snow to plow….


  93. street says:

    dear steve i don’t think it just “happen”

    but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work. 5 While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.”

    Jesus is still present in the world through the Holy Spirit. freely given to the children of God. Jesus left the world and some day the Holy Spirit will leave the world and be plunged into great darkness. He will not leave or abandon His own. 8 for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light 9 (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), 10 trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them;

    one of the things we all struggle with are beliefs of none Biblical origin that come from legitimate questions. we ask questions and then answer them ourselves. i have to chuckle as a write this because i am so foolish in this kind of thinking. the disciples were asking the right questions to the right person and they received the answers they sought. you should do no less. i hope the answer doesn’t move you away, but closer to the One who loves you. James writes about this too.

  94. street says:

    just “happen” was thinking of jonah and the disciples in the boat during the storm while Jesus was sleeping. i have to say it is funny looking back on it, but i know it’s not during the storm. praying for His grace, peace and joy in the mist of the storm to fill your heart in Christ Jesus.

  95. joycemb says:

    Christine I have been thinking about Psalm 136:1 and how the word ‘steadfast’ is such an important description for God. Just think, He is steadfast in His love for us when we fail at a ‘step’ in our program or our solitary life of devotion. In our family life or in our neighborhood, in our church or in our jail cell. In our mansion or our cardboard box street shelter. He is AMAZING!

  96. SFDBWV says:

    Street sometimes people get sick, hurt or are even born blind and it is just the way things are. Not always a plan of God’s to make people sick get hurt and are even be born with disabilities. Sometimes things just happen.

    Do you really believe it is God who makes little children have cancer

    Or has someone burn to death in a house fire.

    Sometimes things just happen.

    And when they do is when our faith and our relationship to God kicks in.

    Took a break from a winter chore and now sorry I said anything today at all.

    See you guys in the next subject.


  97. joycemb says:

    Thinking of you Steve and all the labor required in your job description. Blessings to you and your family. Joyce

  98. street says:

    steve said,”Street sometimes people get sick, hurt or are even born blind and it is just the way things are. Not always a plan of God’s to make people sick get hurt and are even be born with disabilities. Sometimes things just happen.”

    steve you are implying God is not all powerful or there is another agent God has no control over. the 12 step program explores and reaffirms many truths in reality and scripture. we are limited and God is not. we are limited in our understanding He is not. bad things happen and we are in agreement on this. the divergent is that God is in control of cancer, blindness, death, and the cosmos. while in control, He is still doing it with justice compassion and love. in other words in keeping with His character. He does not change. i have to say a privation of good is a bitter pill to swallow. over time i have come to trust Him more, mostly from failure, it’s His love that holds my heart over a lack of knowledge. it’s His revealed Word that seals the deal. He calls them covenants. it is His resurrected Son that bods well for the believer as well as those times he makes Himself know in time of great distress with strength and reassurance. i am not above this difficulty, but i know Whom I believe. God bless you with the wisdom of paul.

  99. street says:

    as i read over my last post justice may not be the right word where i used it. job’s friends got into big trouble using it to infer he, job, had sinned against God while experiencing a great trial. justice requires judgment and you can not do that without the whole story and/or with out God’s Word. i am pretty sure God with holds justice till after death not before. the anti christ would be one who gets thrown alive, before hand, into the lake of fire. and i am off topic again. so i recant that part.

  100. jeff1 says:

    We have enemies in this World and sometimes we can be our own worst enemy through ignorance of one kind or another.
    God has saved us from all the bad choices we have made and we can thank him by trusting him even if it means suffering that we do not understand, we will struggle with it but we can trust God in our own or others suffering. The World excepts suffering like it is meant but we know that God did not intend suffering that men will never get it right on his own but God is working behind the scenes as well as through us. I once heard someone describe it like you are an under cover agent and God wants you to remain under cover until the time comes for him to reveal all.

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