Morning Bible Studies 1/23/18

Topic: How’d You Do It?     A MUST Read.

Ever been to rehab?  I have. Many.  Upon graduation or completion, I’ve been asked: “how did you do it?”.  I remember my answer: “I didn’t pick up a bottle and I didn’t leave”.  But was it that simple?        Nope.

This song above (hope you’re listening to it loudly) was played in my last rehab (along with others) but, the louder volume of the congregation’s voices was obvious and at times sent chills down my spine.  God was there.

Are you still suffering?  I know that many are struggling and my heart truly goes out to you.  I want to be completely honest with you this morning – I am no expert in recovery and I “only” have 7 months of sobriety as of Sunday, however, bear with me please and hopefully the summary of today’s Bible study makes some sense, or helps one person.  That is my “mission” and it relates to today more than any other blog post I have written.

Any rehab, and I personally think it really doesn’t matter what disorder or addiction that we suffer from; the “clinical” help available seems to be similarly structured, but one theme (at least in my experience of over 7 rehabs) stands out each time – spirituality and lack thereof – in one form/definition or another.  Deep word, I know.  I have heard many a person talk about their search for their purpose.

We wanted to take a deeper look into that “spirituality” and see if we could relate it to our afflictions and our Bible study this morning.  The initial Bible scripture we focused on was Philippians 2:3 and then we looked at the other “Big Book” and after you read the following excerpts, you may notice the theme.

Philippians 2:3

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,

 

This verse alone is very powerful. In my mind, it is one of the most powerful verses written by the Epistle Paul and I would want nothing more than to always practice its principal.  However, I do not and when I haven’t; it associates in one way or another, with relapse EVERY time.

 

The founders of Alcoholics Anonymous in 1935 was Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith in Akron, Ohio. AA’s stated “primary purpose” (Mission) is to “stay sober and help other alcoholics achieve sobriety”.  It is important to note that Christian principals were the foundation of their goals.  The 12th step is an important one.  It is the last step to follow – meaning there is nothing that follows. We are suggested to help others by carrying this message to others as a result of a “spiritual awakening”.

 12. 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.

**A.A. “Big Book” Doctor’s Opinion

“We work out our solution on the spiritual as well as an altruistic plane”

 

 

“To cultivate altruistic love, we must first become fully aware of our own desire to be free from suffering and to experience well-being. This step is especially important for those who have a negative image of themselves or have suffered so much that they feel that they are not made for happiness. We must thus generate warm, tolerant and benevolent attitude towards ourselves and resolve to achieve what is truly good for ourselves.”  …Matthew Ricard

Think about the following statements:

  • If your mission as a Leader is to help only Yourself: you will fail.
  • If your mission as a Follower is to help only Yourself: you will fail.
  • If your mission as a Family Member is to help only Yourself: you will fail.
  • If your mission as a Friend is to help only Yourself: you will fail.
  • If your mission as a Church is to help only Yourself: you will fail.
  • If your mission in Recovery is to help only Yourself: you will fail.

If Jesus’s mission in love was to help only Himself: He would have failed.

  • Paul did not help only himself.
  • Dr. Bob Smith and Bill Wilson did not only help themselves.
  • God does not only help Himself.

As long as I keep helping and loving others, I will stay sober.  Simple and that is the only way that I can explain the question “How do you do it?” or how am I going to “do it” today.

A Pastor and Counselor at the Salvation Army once told me that it is important to read the before and after of individual Bible verses, so let’s take his advice and see what we get out of the rest of what Paul was saying in Philippians:

 

Philippians 2:1-14 

Imitating Christ’s Humility

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

Wow!!   Enough said for today.

 

As always, I encourage comments and please share it, but more so, I hope and pray that someone reads this post today and something clicks.  Have a great Tuesday.

Todays’s verse to “chew on”:

 

1 John 4:21

21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

Relationship vs. Authority

Topic: Authority

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kC1p9v7uZRc

Being a control freak myself – which in my twelve step group is labeled a character defect, and in a church can be considered a sin, I found this mornings bible study interesting at minimum.  A key to finding sobriety in A.A. is the elusive “spiritual awakening”.  One of the greatest reasons to attend A.A. is for the fellowship.  Should this not be the case when attending church?  Don’t get me wrong, I have felt welcomed at many churches (where I seek spiritual guidance), however, I have also felt judged and almost shunned (if) when I speak my personal issues.  I once thought “I sure would love to have my Pastor’s phone number on speed dial, like I do my sponsor’s!”  Have some churches forgotten that we are all sinners?  A.A. hasn’t forgotten, but I am a devout Christian as well.

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I have recently been blessed by having the opportunity to experience and participate in church services at many varying Christian denominations facilities in multiple geographic locations.  I have taken a message from each service and in each instance, the gift that I’ve received is the relationships with people that I have formed.  This hasn’t been necessarily true in every occasion with the leaders of each establishment.  The congregations were warm, friendly and curious. On the contrary – most (not all) of the time the leaders were the opposite – cold, impersonal, and unattentive to my needs or even my presence!

I have, on more than one occasion visited churches where the sermons “blew me away”.  They were sermons that not only kept me awake and focused but filled me with empowerment and I looked at those Pastors, Priests, Clergy, Reverands, Elders, etc., with great admiration and respect.  In each experience, I put aside my personal social anxieties and made the attempt to meet them and introduce myself.  The result?  As I explained above; cold, unattentive, etc., and I also noticed a few who went into the category of arrogant and downright demeaning.

I was in attendance at a service where I distinctly noticed that not one person was holding hands or putting their arm around there husbands, or wives or children!  This was in a relatively small congregation of approximately 400.  I felt like I was in the “Twilight Zone” literally!

I purposefully reached down and grabbed my girlfriend’s hand.

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Initially, at another service (at a different denomination), the entire congregation were warm, inviting and very friendly.  When the service began I couldn’t help but notice that many in attendance uttered shoosh in almost one loud voice when the Minister walked in.  You could hear a pin drop in that building.  People (and families) were individually singled out to move their seating positions!  The worship (or lack thereof) reflected this seemingly intimidating aura.

I once thought “I sure would love to have my Pastor’s phone number on speed dial, like I do my sponsor’s!”

13 The Lord says:

“These people come near to me with their mouth
    and honor me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship of me
    is based on merely human rules they have been taught. (Isaiah 29:13)

How does this all relate as far as a bible study and alcoholism (or any affliction)?  Well, we looked at what Jesus taught.  Relationship! We looked at what is God’s will for us, and how that plays a role in our lives today.  We have authority all around us (and with good cause), but is that fact supposed to scare us?  This is where we turned to the bible for answers.

https://media.giphy.com/media/3o85xIO33l7RlmLR4I/giphy.gif

Jesus sums it up in the book of Mark:

35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.”

36 “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.

37 They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.”

38 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?”

39 “We can,” they answered.

Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, 40 but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.”

41 When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. 42 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be the slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 9:35-45)

Our understanding or perception of this story is that some of today’s authorities seek vanity and selfish desires for their own status (such as James and John asking to be at His right and left hand) and forget their “mission” in its entirety.

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My previous 10 years of experience of leading people at a large manufacturing facility taught me many lessons.  I managed departments where, honestly, I had no idea what they really did.  I learned that to lead those people successfully – to understand those people – I needed to do what they do.  I would actually take off the “white shirt” and put on the blue; get dirty and perform their job in its entirety with no “stage” set. One of those lessons is that by serving, I not only gained knowledge but earned respect and thereby accomplished goals.  I have “sat where they sat”.

Many of you (if you’ve made it this far, thanks!) may not have time to watch the following video, however, I hope that you do.  Keep in mind that I am not promoting the church or Pastor in the video, nor do I work there, but the message is most definitely worth listening to.

At the end of our Bible study today, we know that we need to pray for and love our leaders and have faith that God is using them either to teach us or to learn something themselves.  Either way, He has a purpose! We are going to practice relationship, and love wins every time!

 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior…(! Timothy 2:1-3)

Today’s verse “to chew on”:

Mark 9:50

50 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”

Thank you so much for reading, Please feel free to comment and have a great day!

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