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Build From Bottom Up

  “But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant.” (‭Luke‬ ‭22‬:‭26‬ NLT)
The service structure of a Twelve-Step Fellowship is modeled after this Kingdom rule. Service is bottom-up, not condescending. The invisible honor that results is contrary to Earth’s understanding, and looks upside-down, but it isn’t. The things of Heaven are unseen (Colossians 1:16), and so it is with spiritual living while on Earth. We are blessed for the purpose of service, and I am only content when I am giving myself in worship of my Creator by serving His other creations.

“A wise woman builds her home, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands. Those who follow the right path fear the LORD; those who take the wrong path despise him.” (‭Proverbs‬ ‭14‬:‭1-2‬ NLT)
I believe either of these verses could stand alone, but together they pose a parallel that amplifies the meaning of the second one by the word picture of the first. Failure for me to follow Lord Jesus Christ is the same folly as if I were to rip apart my own house in a violent fit. The use of a woman in the first picture demonstrates the social expectation of stewardship. It isn’t just any resident of the house going all Tazmanian Devil on it, but the housekeeper herself! I am my own life’s housekeeper, and so the choice to build or destroy, to follow or despise, is mine.

Holy Father, today, I choose to follow Your lead to love sacrificially, to serve others and, by extension, You. You are my motivation to breathe, move, fuel, plan, and act. Save me from selfish reaction today, and guide me under Your grace to peace. Cause my living to reflect Your loving care, and brighten my light so others will know You. In Christ Jesus’ name, amen!

“Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.”

“Satisfy us each morning with your unfailing love, so we may sing for joy to the end of our lives.” (‭Psalms‬ ‭90‬:‭12, 14‬ NLT)

Tonight, we will say our final goodbye to my precious friend, Frances W., who had learned to live this way, satisfied each morning with the love of God, her Higher Power, who gave her joy, peace, and purpose all her days. Recognizing her limits, she lived each day purposefully, and encouraged others to share in the joy of a life so lived. I miss her already, and weep for her family and other friends, but I cherish the privilege of knowing and loving her. She will remain a large part of my life and recovery until we meet again at the end of this “Road of Happy Destiny” which she trod so well.

Holy Father, today I am grateful for the ones You sent ahead of me, who tread the path of recovery and made it more passable for me. I thank You for Frances, who loved, encouraged, and inspired me. You have blessed me with an extended family through my recovery fellowship, and she was a sweet matron and sister for many more than me. Help me remember her example, as she did so well to follow Yours. Give me grace to live like she did, loving others, and lighting up rooms with the joy she carried inside.

Not of This World!

second coming Jesus“So fear the Lord and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord alone. (Joshua 24:14, NLT)

Most of us were raised by worshipers of the idol of Self – selfish fear, insecurity, or anxiety; selfish ambition, pride, condescension; selfish indulgence, greed, compulsive hoarding, eating, or addiction. We need to destroy these idols with no less determined zeal than Israel destroyed all their statues, taboos, and Ashera poles so we can live according to a singular purpose. It is our duplicity that so vexes us that we seek medication in the satisfaction of Self.

“And there will be strange signs in the sun, moon, and stars. And here on earth the nations will be in turmoil, perplexed by the roaring seas and strange tides. 26 People will be terrified at what they see coming upon the earth, for the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then everyone will see the Son of Man[e] coming on a cloud with power and great glory.[f] 28 So when all these things begin to happen, stand and look up, for your salvation is near!” (Luke 21:25-28, NLT)

In order to see without fear the things coming in the sky that will terrify all the friends of Earth, we have to be so opined to a preference for deliverance that we hesitate not one moment. Rather than looking back as Lot’s wife did (Genesis 19, Luke 17:32), we must seek Heaven so fervently that we are not even momentarily afraid, but stand and look up, for our salvation is near!

Self SatisfactionHoly Father, today, I look to You rather than cast my eyes on the habitat You have provided me. I turn my motives to Your Kingdom and will, and cast off the sin that so easily entangles me. Graduate me from the mire to which I have become so accustomed that I scarcely find it objectionable. Grant me an awareness of my sin and wash it off me. Let me not be so bound to the ways and whims of Earth’s people that I join them in their disobedience, but never let me forget to love them with the self-sacrificing passion You did and do. In Christ’s name, amen!

pure water leaf“But just as all the good things the Lord your God has promised you have come to you, so he will bring on you all the evil things he has threatened, until the Lord your God has destroyed you from this good land he has given you.” (Joshua 23:15, NIV)

“I have sworn an oath to David, and in my holiness I cannot lie.” (Psalm 89:35, NIV)

These verses should be effective in wiping away a common misconception about God that is comfortable to entertain: the one that paints God as merely a warm and fuzzy grandfather-type who lets us have our way and who, consequently, disappoints us when our every wish isn’t materialized. God demands holiness of Himself and, while He has instituted grace as a covering for imperfection, He has been clear that obedience toward holiness is still our part of the covenant. Any doubt of that should be clarified in His declaration in Psalm 89. (The whole chapter seems to address this issue.) Joshua was clear to Israel just as Moses was when he laid before them the choice between life and death (Deuteronomy 30:19), and it should be clear to this generation’s children of Heaven too.

I can Twelve-Step my holiness problem this way: 1) I am powerless over sin, and my life is (by my power) unmanageable; 2) I believe God can deliver and restore me to sane living and abundant life; 3) I make a conscious decision to turn over to God everything I am, have, and will become, to live for His purposes rather than my whims; etcetera, through the Twelve Steps. As long as I am carried by a body of meat I will be prone to human decay, and while Earth’s gravity holds me I will stand imperfectly on this rock, but I have the hope of relationship with a Creator who is not content to leave me alone until He perfects me for eternal unity with Him (Philippians 1:6).

Gravitys HoldTo reach for holiness, I have to look at sin differently through eyes of grace. Sin includes anything outside God’s perfect will for me, not just the firebrands I once used to convict others and make myself feel superior – murder, robbery, adultery, and the like. I sin when I think self-serving thoughts – not just lust, but laziness, pride, self-satisfying cravings. To don this attitude toward sin without the undergarment of grace would be to fling all hope into despair, because the consequence of sin is always death. Not to apply it, however, is to be a friend of the world and enemy of holiness, and I cannot bear to tolerate my enmity with God while His is the relationship I most fervently seek to maintain.

Holy Father, today, while I celebrate all the progress with which you have blessed me, I acknowledge that there is nothing I have or am that You did not create, that You do not own, and that You could not take away. I align myself with You. Thank you for accepting me, faults and all. Now make me more acceptable to You by whatever means You determine necessary. I submit. Clean out the closets of my heart, all my secret places. Shine light into my darkness and sweep away the debris of my shame. Make me aware of anything that remains for me to address, and give me grace to address it according to Your will. Be glorified in who I am and what I do. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen!

“The heavens are yours, and the earth is yours; everything in the world is yours—you created it all.” (‭Psalms‬ ‭89‬:‭11‬ NLT)
My addiction likes to pose questions like, “What if there isn’t enough?” The reality is that, no matter what happens, God will still be owner and operator of the universe. As long as that is true, I am content, with no real reasons to be otherwise. The imaginary reasons are the stuff of my sinful, selfish disease.

“People who despise advice are asking for trouble; those who respect a command will succeed.”
‭‭(Proverbs‬ ‭13:13‬ ‭NLT‬‬)
I have always resisted the advice of others. Like a foolish youth, I demanded I was different than those who failed before me, and insisted that I might succeed where others had not. I am happy to be growing up into a wiser way of avoiding pitfalls into which I can see others have fallen.

Holy Father, today, I return to You for the grace to accept with gladness Your will and provision for me. Help me walk according to Your guidance, and to seek it in the clues you leave in the lives around me. Forgive my worries and wash me of them, granting me contentment as I exercise my trust in You. In You alone I place my trust!

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