Archive for December, 2014

09
Dec
14

Prediors in Twelve Step Meetings Arn’t Always Sexual

Are there predators in Twelve Step meetings? Absolutely! Some would say that this is largely due to our criminal justice system making AA and other meetings mandatory for perpetrators of drug and alcohol related crimes. Those of us who have been around awhile and have be granted some wisdom and discernment from our creator must take the responsibility to we watchful and forever vigilant to help guard against inappropriate behavior that may hinder the newcomer from recovering. It is a responsibility we must not take lightly. Having said that, I do know that treatment for alcoholism/addiction does not have to be voluntary to effective. Whether that be in the form of a Twelve Step Meeting or an effective IOP or residential treatment program. The majority of folks walking into meetings, treatment or intensive outpatient aren’t there because they desire to be there. I know I wasn’t. Most of us came in through some consequence that occurred because of our actions. For some it was the nudge of the judge. For some it was the prodding of friends or family and for others it was a wakeup call due to poor health. But for most it wasn’t what we really wanted to do. It wasn’t until we were around a while before we began to be convinced of the benefits that were offered through a legitimate recovery program. It was later that we actually desired to be there. I used to be one of those guys who believed that recovery wasn’t for those needed it but only for those who wanted it. I no longer believe that philosophy as I now know that the majority of folks who have actually recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body and have had a spiritual awakening as a result of applying and implementing the Twelve Steps, didn’t want it when they first came through the doors. Recovery is for any and every one, whether they desire it or not. Thank God it’s available for those who can’t see clearly enough to actually want it. Otherwise I for one would have been dead a long time ago. Though there are predators who infiltrate our fellowship meetings I think it is much more common to see people teaching platitudes and a man centered humanistic recovery process that promotes meeting dependence instead of a God centered program that cries out for a dependence upon our creator. Because both issues are of grave concern it is imperative that we turn from our self-centered ways and return to the God who is God for our complete dependence and abandon our independence if we are going to recover. More importantly if the newcomer is going to have a real chance at a new life we must embrace the truth that an authentic meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous is unapologetically about helping each other develop a personal relationship with God to help us solve our problem. If we are not doing that then we will indeed be welcoming in all sorts of predatory personalities, ideas and deceptions. I fear that in many areas of the country and world this has already been taking place, and it saddens me.

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05
Dec
14

An Incredible Blessing While at Walmart

Every Tuesday and Thursday I work at our local church as director of drug and alcohol resource and support services. As is the norm this time of year the church is decorated with Christmas trees, lights and all that sparkles for the holiday season. My office sits off of the main lobby and was looking a little dull as there was no sign that Christmas had touched that area of the church. On this morning I woke early so I could spend an hour or so at our local Walmart picking up some holiday decorations for my office. I had stopped for some coffee at our local coffee hangout and was feeling particularly chipper.

When I arrived at the Walmart Super Store I was pleased to see that there were only eight cars in the parking lot so I was sure to be able to shop with no crowds or annoying customers at the check-out.

After cruising the garden shop area, picking out my little desk tree, lights and ornaments I stepped into the first open register area where there was only one customer who appeared to be finishing up her transaction with the clerk. Great, I thought to myself, in and out with no hassle, but as quickly as I assumed that I would be finished at the register in record time, I realized that the lady in front of me was having difficulty counting her change. In fact she was looking through every pocket of her purse trying to find the last bit of change she had. My first thought (often wrong) was, egads I knew it was too good to be true. It’s just my luck that I get stuck at the register where there is a customer who can’t get it together. As quickly as those words came to mind I felt the nudge of God’s Spirit as he gently spoke to my heart. He seemed to be saying “Pay attention, I’m about to do a good work”.

As I began to do as the Lord requested of me, pay attention, I noticed the lady was beginning to cry, her lip was quivering. She was obviously very upset. My heart began to melt as I realized she didn’t have enough money to make her single purchase of cold medicine. Every selfish, self-centered thought began to drain from my mind as it was apparent that her heart was breaking. Should I offer to pay for her medicine? Should I pony up the amount she was short? Would she be offended if I offered to help? Once again the Spirit of God spoke to my heart and I spoke up. “Are you short?” I asked, “Yes by only sixteen cents” she said. I pulled out a dollar and told the cashier to cover it for her. She was embarrassed but thankful. I looked down into my wallet and as if God Himself was directing my movements I pulled out a twenty dollar bill and handed it to her. “Merry Christmas” I said. With tears in her eyes she explained that her Father had just passed away and that she wasn’t feeling very well, but she didn’t have any more money because of funeral expenses. All she had left was the small amount in her purse that she was praying would pay for one single box of cold medicine. As she walked away she said “Thank you so much, I will pay it forward”.

I share this story not to boast of my generosity but to let you know that left to my own devices I am naturally self-centered. My tendency is to put myself first and the other person last. Having said that may I just say that since Jesus has entered my life he has changed my heart, He gets my attention today. He speaks to me loader than my own voice. It is not by my own power that I gave that money to the lady in the Walmart store. It was the love and generosity of God’s Spirit through me that gave that money away.

I am constantly amazed at how so many people will reach beyond their own selfish desires and give to others in need. Yes, we live in a very self-absorbed society, but can I just say that if you look hard enough you will find people that are still very generous and who hear the voice of God every day.
I thank God for getting in my way today to bless another person who was obviously hurting.
The thing that amazed me was I wasn’t prompted to ask her if she believed in Jesus, or if she even believed in God or a Higher Power. God only wanted me to pay attention so I would recognize a need and then through His strength fill that need. And may I reiterate, without the Spirit of the living God living in me I simply would have been frustrated and went about my business.
I give all glory and credit to my Heavenly Father for using me today.

On page 62 of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous (Third Edition) it states: Next, we decided that hereafter in this drama of life, God was going to be our Director. He is the Principle; we are His agents. He is the father, and we are His children. In other words, my life is no longer my own. I am to serve Him and in serving Him I can be of service to my fellow man.

So my prayer is that as we all enter into this Holiday Season that we would pause and ask God for His strength to put aside our selfish ways and take up His call to be gracious and loving to all people without qualification. That we may open our eyes and pay attention to the needs of those around us and that we be His agents in filling a need as He gives us the ability to do so. When we do, we experience a blessing that is like no other.

I don’t know if I will ever see that woman again. What I do know is that you and I were created in the image of God. In a way, we are God with skin on. This causes me to ask this question of myself. Does my Christianity look good on me or does it turn people away? I’m going to be thinking a lot about this over the next several weeks.

As for my office, there now sits a miniature Christmas tree with little white lights, red and gold ornaments and a reminder that somewhere out there is a precious lady whose day started out with tears in her eyes but, because of God’s love, just maybe she had an occasion to smile.

Thanks for allowing me to share.

Serenity for You!
~The Monty’man

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04
Dec
14

Monty’s Ten Questions for the Holidays

When dealing with difficult people here are ten questions I ask myself before I respond to what may seem to be harsh, judgmental or unkind behavior coming from the other person or persons.

1. Am I patient?
2. Am I kind in word and deed?
3. Do I envy what others have?
4. Am I prideful?
5. Do I dishonor others by gossiping?
6. Am I self-seeking?
7. Am I easily angered?
8. Do I keep a record of wrongs done to me?
9. Do I delight in evil and immoral deeds?
10. Do I want to be in control of the situation?

These questions are inspired by 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 of the Bible and are a part of my daily inventory.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

Also included in my daily inventory is the following paragraph found in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous on page 66
and 67 of the Third Edition.

This was our course: We realized that the people who wronged us were perhaps spiritually sick. Though we did not like their symptoms and the way these disturbed us, they, like ourselves, were sick too.
We asked God to help us show them the same tolerance, pity and patience that we would cheerfully grant a sick friend. When a person offended we said to ourselves, “This is a sick man. How can I be helpful to him? God save me from being angry. Thy will be done.”

Remember, we are powerless over other people choices including their behavior.
We can only keep our side of the street clean.

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays Everyone!

~The Monty’man




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