Archive: Break Free

Written by Danny Blackwell and published by New Hope Outreach. Quoted verbatim. See Information on Re-publishing.

Break Free 12 Step

By Rev. Danny Blackwell

THE CIVIL WAR: THE ADDICTIVE CYCLE

Before we begin the 12 steps, let us look for a moment at the addictive cycle. This cycle like a lot of things in life if left unaddressed can cause major problems for us. On a national scale issues left to grow can lead to civil war. We also can be at war inside having the need to escape our pain through many ways.

We all have histories but as John Stephenson has said, "The Lord is the victor of history and that includes personal history." So how does this cycle affect us? We may experience trauma or some other event that gets the cycle going sometime in our lives. Also, our minds begin to play negative messages over and over, i.e.. You are no good, I'm stupid... So we begin to fill ourselves with shame and low self-esteem, because we start believing our negative messages and this causes further emotional pain.

We carry all this pain and develop ways to attempt to handle it through; drugs, burying our emotional pain in a host of things as well as developing our own unique escapes. We pay a high price for not dealing with our pain in lost peace, more guilt, shame and wanting to punish ourselves. All this running from our pain and living in denial runs us right back into the addictive cycle again and again, unless we face our pain and reach out to God.

There is hope and that hope rests in Jesus as we open ourselves up to Him inviting Him to work in and through us. Jesus promised that nothing is too hard for Him. In Luke 4: 18-19 we read, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind. To set at liberty those who are oppressed, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord." Thus we have hope, new hope.

God Bless
By Rev. Danny Blackwell


STEP BY STEP

1. We admitted we were powerless over our same sex or transgender attractions and that our lives had become unmanageable.

2. Came to believe that God, the source of all power can and will restore us to sanity.

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as He instructs us.

4.Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of us.

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

6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible except when to do so would injure them or others.

10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

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


Why are we here?

He/She could not get out and now he was desperate. It looked so good and felt great at first and he cannot remember the real reason why he was in this place anyway. Look a way out, but no it was blocked. I feel afraid, I can only trust me…Yet I don't want to be here… He is coming, try to escape but I am trapped. He says trust me and I will get you out. I'm tired and He gets me in His hands and takes me out and then He opens His hands and I am free and soar high. I never thought I could trust Him, being a sparrow. But now I am free.

What are your expectations as you go through this material?

1.________________________

2. _______________________

3. _______________________

4. _______________________

"Welcome"

Step #1

We admitted we were powerless over our same sex or transgender attractions and that our lives had become unmanageable.

You are downtown and in trying to find an address, you are lost. What do you do: you can continue to try to find the address and not admit that you are lost. You can give up and go home or ask directions. Have you ever been in a situation where you needed to ask directions, how did you feel?

Step # 1 is admitting we are lost and need help from someone else. Also it is about realizing our brokenness.
It is ok to admit our feelings of failure.
It is ok to admit our addictions.
It is ok to admit our fears and escapes.
Powerless to change ourselves is something we must face. We tend to hide proof of weakness in us.

What do you feel you can change about yourself and what do you feel you cannot change?
We must face the truth of our same sex attractions.
What means so much to you that you must have or do it no matter what?

What do your addictions give you in return for doing it?

Another aspect of personal powerlessness is the feeling we must be in control and is able to control our lives.

In the book of Judges chapters 13 - 16, we have the story of Samson. He was gifted be the Lord with great strength, and was a leader of Israel during a difficult time. But he faced and fell to his greatest temptations: pride and women. While with Delilah (ch.16), we read in 16:20

And she said, "The Philistines are upon you, Samson." So he awoke from His sleep, and said "I will go out as before at other times, and shake myself Free! " But he did not know that the Lord had departed from him.

He never saw his need to admit he needed help until he lost his freedom and sight. He hit Bottom.

Can you relate to Samson in your struggles?

How would you change this story of Samson if you could?

There are two key parts that hide how our lives are lived:

1. Self- will = "I can solve my own problems".
2. Denial with its many tricks = "I've got no problems."

What area of your life is causing you the most pain?

What behaviors do you have that is difficult to admit as being a problem? Romans 7:18-20
Psalm 31:9,10

What do these verses say to you about attitudes we must have in order to admit personal powerlessness over habits in our lives?
We must not only deal with powerlessness, but we must admit our lives are unmanageable.

In Luke 15: 17 we read:
When he came to his senses, he said, "How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death."
The prodigal son admitted his life was a mess, he counted the cost, he could go no lower, he faced reality, he hit bottom.
What are the costs or consequences of your lifestyle?

How do you see yourself as of today?

Can you list events that occurred this week that show you the messed up nature of your life at this time?
Check and see if you have these feelings:
Loneliness
Relationship problems
Feelings that I must be right
Uncontrollable compulsive habits
Fear of authority figures
Fear that we don't belong anywhere
I must always be perfect

Who or what do you trust in, to change you?

Psalm 18:6 In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried out to my God; He heard my Voice from His temple, and my cry came before Him, even to His ears.
Psalm 34:18 The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a humbled spirit.

What is your prayer request for yourself?

Romans 7:24-25a
For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells: for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find... O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God, through Jesus Christ...
Paul in this text admitted he needed help and could not find it within, he looked to God. Can I admit I need help and that my life is full of brokenness?

I admit my life is out of control and that I need and will ask for your help daily.

Signed Dated

Step #2

Came to believe that God, the source of all power can and will restore us to sanity.

In Charles Dickens' classic, "A Christmas Carol", Scrooge is in the presence of the spirit of Christmas past and as the spirit opens his window, Scrooge is afraid he might fall and the spirit says, ".... bear but a touch of my hand and you will be upheld". (pg.24) So Scrooge takes the spirit's hand and together they fly out of the window. In step # 2, we are beginning to take the Lord's hand and allow Him to lead us out of our addictions and insane lifestyle. At first, we like Scrooge are afraid, afraid to trust someone else, afraid we might fail but as we willingly take these first steps, we can have hope. What fears do you have that are like Scrooge's?
Scrooge's life had become one big mixed up mess and in step # 2, we must face our insane lifestyle and come to believe that God can restore us. We must come to see the insanity we live with. Insanity in that we do things over and over that are not healthy and although we experience guilt and shame and pleasure, we continue to do them hoping for some other results. We look for fulfillment in habits, addictive agents and other things. What habits do you do over and over that as you think about them, you can admit are not helping you? Jer. 2:13 says: My people have committed two sins: they have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water. We all have thirsts i.e. thirsts for love, companionship, peace, financial needs but we all try to fulfill our thirsts in broken ways...broken cisterns. We develop negative lifestyles because of negative messages that we have always received i.e. "You are not good enough".
What negative messages do you remember receiving while growing up?

In our mixed up insanity, we develop thinking that focuses on I'll only be... 1. I'll only be happy..........if I'm rich;
2. I'll only be happy..........if I'm married;
3. I'll only be happy..........if I get drunk;
4. I'll only be happy..........if I become someone else;

Can you relate to these, if so fill in the following;
5. I'll only be happy.....
6. I'll only be happy.....

How do you feel about you?
We look at our insane lifestyle and then face the task of taking Jesus' hand like Scrooge took the hand of the spirit of Christmas past, but we may have doubts. Can we trust Jesus or will He fail us?
What are your fears about trusting God rather than your own abilities?
Sometimes we have false views of what God is like. David Wang in his book, "The Coming Influence of China", recounts the stories of the results of false beliefs of what God wants. He tells of two groups: one group felt one must stand on one's head to pray, while the other felt that in order to be saved, one must hear God's literal voice. These groups had false views of God because they had one or two pages of the Bible only. (Pg. 87 - 88). Also, we may have been hurt by Christians saying hurtful things to us or maybe we were abused by a parent ...so the idea of a heavenly Father or a God of love seems elusive.
How do you view God and how do you think He feels about you?

How has God let you down?

How does God really feel about us?

In Luke 4:18 - 21 we read the words of Jesus: The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed To proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.

Isaiah 41:10 says: So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you: I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Phil. 2:13 says: For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose.

Jer. 29:11 says: For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

All these verses and many more speak of God's love for us and Jesus died on the cross and rose again for us. We are loved! .

Please take the above Bible verses and write one out that speaks to you.
So what do we do?
Michael, a friend, who was an addict, that I prayed with, said it best; "If God didn't show up, I would have committed suicide long ago". God does show up today and He asks us to place our hands in His.

I still struggle with .....
But
I willingly ask for your help, Lord and I need you.

Name
Date

Step #3

Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as He instructs us.

He stood before Elisha's house, before this date he had tried everything medically he knew but with no results. Naaman the leper now had a choice to make, would he continue as he was or would he seize the moment, trust the words of this prophet and experience a new life... Read II Kings chapter 5. We like Naaman come today to a choice we must face sooner or later, can we trust God with our lives.
Step # 3 is like opening a door and the key that opens that door is willingness.
How do you feel about being open about your needs with God?

Were you brought up never to show weakness?

Step # 3 is a leap of faith for we are trusting God with our lives and at times we wonder will God fail us. We in this step are called to elevate God from someone whom we ask for help when things get rough to Supreme Commander of our lives and we thus seek His will and guidance for our lives. How do you feel about giving God supreme command over all of you?

What areas of your life make you feel like there is no hope for you because you have failed so much?
As mentioned in step # 2, we all have thirsts: relationship thirsts, sexual thirsts, financial thirsts, success thirsts; the danger comes when we make these thirsts the focus of our whole lives and neglect the Creator who gave us these thirsts.
What thirsts do you admit is a daily struggle?

At times our thirsts become so overwhelming that they become obsessive-compulsive behaviors and they control us so completely, we depend on them for our lives almost.
What obsessive-compulsive behaviors do you admit to having?

There is hope. Naaman was healed and so can we be.
Jesus in Matt. 11: 28-30 says: Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
Whatever your burdens, you can give them over to Jesus.
I give you my burden of......
and ask you to help me daily Jesus.

Psalm 118: 8-9 says: It is better to take refuge in the Lord then to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.
Prov. 3: 5-6 says: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and He will make your paths straight.
Sometimes it is hard to trust God because everything we have trusted in or everyone we trusted in has failed however God never fails.

Have you been let down before?

We in this step are asked to turn over ourselves to God's care, but how?
1. Put aside our pride and self-will and talk to Jesus - pray
2. Read the Bible
3. Continue in these steps
4. Daily seek to do God's will
5. Extend God's grace to you (Eph. 2: 8-9)
6. See ourselves as God sees us as we get to know Him

Are you afraid you will be forced by God to give up too much?

Contrary to how we feel, God loves us more than we can know.
John 3:16-17 says: For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.

How do you feel God thinks about you?

God loves us despite our sin we all sin.
Romans 3:23 says: For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Do you see yourself as having sins?

Romans 8:1 says: There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. Thus, we like Naaman, face a choice, don't be afraid; we are loved and we can daily turn our lives, messed up as they are, over to God's care. We must not stop, we must go on to look at ourselves through the eyes of steps #4 - 12 and deepen our relationships with God and others.
Are you ready to turn your life over to God's care?

If so, write out your own prayer.
I......(name) ask you to take complete control of my life.
I struggle with............
But after looking at Psalm 118:8-9; Prov. 3: 5-6, Rom. 3:23; Rom. 8:1...
I realize that I am loved.
Sign & date

Step #4

Date Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

The Purpose of Step # 4: To discover areas of our lives that need attention. To get everything out in the open to bring healing To face the truth about our actions honestly To see behavior patterns in our lives. To be real about our problems.

Definitions: Of areas that affect us

1. Security: The need to feel secure in areas of our lives can affect self-esteem, relationships, need to control, things we hold on to through life … security blankets. (self-esteem, relationships)

2. Social: The whole area of things that make us feel socially strong... "I must have it".... " I'm only important if I am #1". (material, emotional needs)

3. Sexual: The whole area of sexuality.... relationships, view of gender, self…lust.... (sexual relations , problems)

4. Ambitions: The desire for distinction, power or fame. (social, security, sexual)

5. Resentments: Anger filled with bitterness towards those we see as a threat, from childhood onward. (I was…)

6. Fears: Things we fear: from childhood, things we dread, unreal fears and anxieties. (I was…)


For the 4 charts fill in the area besides each topic.

CHART 1: Resentments/ Anger.

I am angry at...? Why am I angry?

Self affected:
What am I angry at?
Why am I angry? self esteem
Relationships:
Material needs:
Emotional needs:
Sexual relations:
Sexual problems:
Social needs:
Security needs:
Sexual needs:
I was selfish:
I was dishonest:
I was afraid:
I was inconsiderate:


CHART 2: Fears

I am fearful of.....? Why am I fearful.....?
Self affected:
What am I angry at?
Why am I angry? self esteem
Relationships:
Material needs:
Emotional needs:
Sexual relations:
Sexual problems:
Social needs:
Security needs:
Sexual needs:
I was selfish:
I was dishonest:
I was afraid:
I was inconsiderate:


CHART 3: Sexual problems.

My sexual problems are...? The effects on self & on others are...?

Self affected:
What am I angry at?
Why am I angry? self esteem
Relationships:
Material needs:
Emotional needs:
Sexual relations:
Sexual problems:
Social needs:
Security needs:
Sexual needs:
I was selfish:
I was dishonest:
I was afraid:
I was inconsiderate:


CHART 4: Harmful conduct.

The person I harmed...? I harmed them by...
Self affected:
What am I angry at?
Why am I angry? self esteem
Relationships:
Material needs:
Emotional needs:
Sexual relations:
Sexual problems:
Social needs:
Security needs:
Sexual needs:
I was selfish:
I was dishonest:
I was afraid:
I was inconsiderate:


How did you feel about doing the charts and what did you learn?

Has life drawn you closer to God or pushed you farther away?

sign & date

Step #5

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

You enter the basement for the first time in years, it is dark and musty with cobwebs and the noise of water running below. You don't go to that basement alone and with flashlight in hand you begin to explore and show all that has been hidden for years.
What feelings go through your mind about sharing everything you learned in step # 4 with God and someone else?
In step #1 we understand the nature of our powerlessness and it's affects on us. In step # 2 we began to see there is a God who cares. In step #3 we yielded ourselves to God. In step #4 we exposed the roots of our problems to ourselves as we did a fearless moral inventory. In step #5 we take all we have learned about ourselves and share it, warts and all with God - self - and another person.
In Luke 15:22 we have the story of the prodigal son... "When he came to his senses, he said, "How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men...."

This prodigal son from his place of need made a confession to his father. How do you think he felt and why?

What types of fears hold you back from admitting your faults?

Steps # 4 & 5 give us practical and healthy ways to see our sins, confess them and be healed spiritually as well as socially. Step # 5 allows all the poison hidden in us to come to the surface and be released like breathing in and out. Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. James 5:16
Is this hard for you to do?

Have you ever been asked, " How are you?" and only say "fine", when you wish you could say, "I'm hurting today," but couldn't because of the image we present to our world is not always what we feel.
Do you think shame, guilt, and low self-esteem are holding you back from confessing your real feelings at this time? Please explain.
Read Hebrews 4: 12- 16
Jesus our High Priest understands us and in doing step # 5, we lower our defenses and become open but we must first extend compassion to ourselves the same as if we were giving it to someone else. Is hard for you to love you?
Some things that will happen as a result of doing step # 5
1. We are no longer alone with our pain.
2. We will have a sense of accountability.
3. Like the prodigal son it will result in humility.
4. We will overcome our denial; we can hide denial from ourselves easily...
5. We will lessen shame and guilt.
6. We will no longer be hiding our deep dark secrets.
7. Sharing with another person will keep in balance our sharing with God and self.

How did you feel doing step # 4?

There are three parts to step # 5
1. Admitted to God
Read I John 1: 7-10 / Psalms 32: 3-5 / Psalms 51
We must bring everything to God, all our past, passion, and poison.
Take a moment and write our your confession to God.

2. Admitted to ourselves; We continue to do step # 4 and push to the surface our inner world. Answer these two questions. a) What must I do to feel loved?

b) What must I do to feel valued?

3. Admitted to another person: This is our road to being honest, real, not alone.

Practical aspects of doing step # 5 with another person.
a) same sex
b) someone you can trust, loving, compassionate
c) someone knowledgeable with 12 step programmed
d) Prepare yourself for that appointment by going over 12 step material
f) As you share listen to your attitudes and emotions
g) don't explain why did something or don't blame someone else just share your
character defects and sins
h) hold nothing back, be transparent
I) there might be feedback of some kind, be prepared for it

This step is not complete until sections 1, 2, and 3 are done
1) Confessed to God: Date completed
2) Confessed to Self: Date completed
3) Confessed to Another: Date completed
4) Who is it?
5) Appointment time
6) Date completed

Step #6

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

You are learning to swim, you have held your breath under water and you have discovered how to kick your feet. Now you embark on a new step, you enter the deep end and must be willing to trust your teacher to support you as he holds you up as you begin to swim. You are used to the way things have been in the shallow end and despite your fears and doubts, you willingly give yourself to your teacher who is teaching you to swim.
Can you relate to this kind of fear?

We have discovered a lot about us, some things we want to get rid of and some things we feel we need and have had like security blankets to protect us. Now in step #6 we must confront all our defects of character and become willing to have God remove them. Sounds scary and hard ----hard or impossible for us but the key is a willingness to let God be our Commander and Lord as He leads us. What fears come to mind about being willing to have God remove all our defects of character?
What character defects do you feel you need despite their negative impact on your life?
Step # 2 and step # 6 are alike in that both steps require that we admit we have problems and both require that we look to God for solutions.
Read Mark 5:25-34

The woman in this text had a problem in her life without human solution despite her human efforts, she took a leap of faith and willingly reached out to Jesus and was totally healed.
How have you, like the woman in this story hid your problems or tried to solve them yourself? denial, hiding, running, blaming or giving up...
The woman's problem caused her to experience a lot of losses, i.e. loss of dignity, loss of money, shame, rejection and yet Jesus never hurt or rejected her in any way.
Do you feel you can bring all you have discovered about yourself in steps #4 and #5 and willingly ask God to remove them? Why?
Micah 7:8 "Do not rejoice over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen I will arise. Though I sit in darkness the Lord will be a light unto me."
This verse speaks of a lifetime journey, "I may not be perfect but I will not give up or turn back. We must never give up; we must be willing to have all of our character defects removed.
What is your biggest challenge in step #6 that you see?

Psalm 37:4-5 "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart Commit your way to the Lord, trust in Him and He will do this."

James 4: 10 "Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up."

What practical ideas are present in these verses to do step #6?
Psalm 119: 10 - 12 "I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Praise be to you, O Lord; teach me your decrees."
These verses speak about a commitment to get close to the Lord through prayer, Bible study, and worship; do you have a personal daily plan to do these and what difference does it make in your daily life?
If you consider all your character defects, those you know you must willingly have God remove and those you want to keep around awhile, what goals are you willing to work towards...(like in one year I would like to have God lessen my tendency toward anger).
One Month Goal

One Year Goal

Paul in Philippians 3:12-14 said...."Not that I have already attained, or am already perfect, but I press on...I press toward the goal..."
We must move toward God's will for us (see II Cor. 5; 17 / Jer. 29:11) and never give up.

Do you feel like it's possible for God to lead you into freedom? Why?

Read Hebrew 4:14-16
To complete this step, write out a letter of being willing to have God remove all your defects of character ...address it to God. Dear Lord, I struggle with...
Date Name

Step #7

Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.

Mark 1: 40- 42
Then a leper came to Him, imploring Him, kneeling down to Him and saying to Him, "If you are willing, you can make me clean," And Jesus, moved with compassion, put out His hand and touched him, and said to him, "I am willing be cleansed. As soon as He had spoken, immediately the leprosy left him, and he was cleansed.

This man in his day faced a situation he could not handle, he felt shame, fear and doubted a little and yet he came to Jesus. Step # 7 focuses on us as we stop acting like we can solve our problems and bring everything that is in us to God and humbly give ourselves to God. Although we ask God to remove our shortcomings, we realize that this is not going to happen all at once and is a daily commitment to depending on God. Seeing how the person in Mark 1:40 - 42 may of felt, how do you feel about bringing yourself to God and yielding to Him?
Having depended on you to solve your problems or escape from them, what role do you feel God should play, can He help? How?
What does humility mean to you?

Read Mark 10:17 - 22
When we humbly bring ourselves to God in step #7, it's not for fixing us up so we can still be #1: it is to begin a life where God is #1, but some things are harder to give up than others. What is easy for you to give up of your shortcomings and what is hard or impossible at this time?
Can you trust God with your life?

Humility is what step #7 is all about ...read Psalm 32:6-8 / Proverbs 23:26 / Matt. 18:4 / I Peter 5:6,7 / I John 5: 14-15 and write what you feel humility is. Humility is...

We make humility practical in our daily lives by:
a) Prayer - see Philippians 4:6-8
b) Bible study
c) Keeping a journal of you feelings
d) Extend grace to yourself ...we are not perfect
e) Doing all the steps
f) Worship God in music
g) Read good books

Surrendering our lives to God is also what step #7 is all about. Read Psalm 37: 4-6
What does it say to you and how do you do what it says?

Doing step #7 is not a one-time event but a walk and a lifestyle. Read Psalm 25:8-11. How is God guiding and teaching you today?
Step #7 requires that we consider all we are both good and bad and bring all our character defects and through prayer asking Him to be #1 in our lives. What is your present relationship with God like?
The apostle Paul in Acts ch 8-9 went from anger toward people whom he didn't like to love for them and all this happened as he yielded control of himself to Jesus and the Lord changed him. We also will experience positive change in our lives as we yield to God and grow in Him. Do you see or expect positive change in yourself?
Finally step #7 is about asking God to remove our shortcomings and we are declaring our trust in Him, we are surrendering our lives to Him knowing He can be trusted to lead us into His will.
Please write out your own prayer to complete this step.

Date Sign

Step #8

Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to amends to them all.

My name is Paul now and a lot has changed since I was called Saul. I look at this step #8 and how I had to do it nearly 2000 years ago, see my story in Acts ch. 8 & 9. For me it began with the disciple named Stephen who was stoned in Jerusalem and I was a government witness who became the leader attacking the early church and I caused a lot of pain to a lot of people. All my anger and blindness towards Christianity ended on a lonely road about noon on the way to Damascus.... I met Jesus and it all changed.... now I preach what I once tried to destroy. So with all this change in me, my faith was now in Christ and past sins forgiven; but I still felt shame and guilt and sick feeling about those Christians I hurt. Thus I made a list, prayed and went to these people, at first they didn't trust me with reason, I had wanted them in prison before. However when I shared my wrongs and how I hurt them as well as helping them in practical ways for the hurt I caused, I experienced healing and joy like never before.
God Bless
Paul

Can you relate to this story and if so how?

Purpose of Step # 8

We have looked at our wrongs, admitted them to God and to another human being now it is time to be willing to make amends for our wrongs. Not how they hurt us but our wrongs. Thus we take responsibility for our actions. the buck stops with us, we take responsibility for our lifestyle. Making amends is not the same as apologizing "I'm sorry" but include making better or repairing the idea of what Zacchaeus did in Luke 19:8..."If I have cheated anybody out of anything I'll pay back..."
What do you feel about making amends?

Like the above story about the Apostle Paul, we carry guilt and shame about past relationships and at times we may say "ya but they hurt me and made me mad." Step #8 & #9 are about cleaning out the dark feelings of anger, guilt, shame and thus starting over afresh. We only concentrate on what we did and take responsibility for it.
In Matt. 7: 3-5 we read:
And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the
plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, let me remove the
speck out of your eye, and look, a plank is in your own eye?
Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see
clearly to remove the speck out of your brother's eye.

Thus in step # 8 we become willing to make amends and in step #9 we will make amends. It requires humility on our part to say to people, I was wrong....
What is your definition of humility?

Also, we must release our need to get even or make others suffer which means letting go of shame, anger, and revenge.
Is it hard for you to forgive people? Explain.

Read Matt. 18: 21-35 / Luke 19: 1-10 and write out what forgiveness means to you.
Forgiveness is...

What step #8 involves:

a) Make a list of all people we have harmed -On the next page.
How we hurt people: physical ...sexual...emotional, control
people.... dominate...intimidate…gossip, ignore people i.e. shut them out, unload
everything on them.
b) We may have experienced: grief, fear, anger, denial, feelings that the past is the past,
thus forget it.

Remember we are asked only to be willing to make amends. , use the charts in step #4 as a guide. Be honest and accurate about your actions. Write on the back of this page if needed.
Who I Hurt:

Relationship to me:

What I did:
How it hurt the person:

How it hurt me:

As you look over your list, whom have you hurt the most and how?

What painful memories do you wish you could just ignore if you could?

As you become willing to make amends and search you're past relationships, remember God loves you and He will never leave you nor forsake you. see Psalm 121.
To complete this step sign this statement:
I ... willing to make amends to all people I
have harmed by my lifestyle.

Sign & Date

Step #9

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

It had been 20 years since he saw his brother and now he was going to meet him again and he was afraid. Jacob had cheated Esau and he had said he would kill Jacob and now Jacob faced his brother and 400 men with him. In fear and dread he prayed and gave a gift of great value to Esau, for you see Jacob had changed. In order to live in peace Jacob had to make peace with his brother.
Can you identify with this story?

Having made a list of people we had harmed, we have been willing to make amends thus taking responsibility for our actions.... In step#9 we make direct amends except when to do so would injure them or others. Step#9 requires that we be willing to change how we live. Remember making amends is not the same as apologizing, it is more than saying, "I'm sorry", it means to reform, make better or repair the damage of the past.
Read Luke 19:8. How did Zacchaeus make amends to people?

Types of amends to different groups:
a) Those we need to make amends as soon as possible i.e. family close friends.
b) Those we can only share a little of what we did lest it hurt them.
c) Those we can not make amends now and must wait till later i.e. hurt is too fresh wait till the right time.
d) Those who we can never make amends i.e. person is dead or where sexual acts have been involved and could begin again.
e) Amends to you, we hurt ourselves.

What will happen as a result of doing steps #1 - #9;
a) Freedom that is new.
b) Happiness.
c) Past will not control our future.
d) We will know peace.
c) We will experience a change in attitude that is less self-centered.
d) We will feel free of guilt and shame.
e) Accept ourselves imperfections and all. Which of these results are you now? beginning to enjoy?

What is involved in making direct amends?

To those we can approach now: share what you did specifically, try to repair damage done, if it involves money or things, we must make an effort to make right, pray.
To those we cannot contact: praying about it, write a letter to person, do an act of kindness in memory of person to someone close to that person, maybe we can do it later if hurt is fresh.
To those we can only share a little lest it hurt them: share what you can so as not to hurt them.
How would you handle making amends to God if you felt you offended Him? I.e. like Peter when he denied the Lord. Mark 14: 66 - 72
Guidelines to making amends:
a) show love and have a good attitude
b) never blame the other person or make excuses
c) accept the consequences for your actions and take responsibility
d) pray before you go and plan what you will say
e) if they react negatively, we have done our part and don't have to answer for them
f) have an attitude of wanting to clean up past relationships and admitting you are wrong.
g) extend compassion to you

How do you feel about making amends?

Read Philemon 1: 8 - 17

What does this say to you about making direct amends?

Chart #1

AMENDS NOW OR LATER

To whom will I make amends and why:

What I fear about making amends:

How I will make amends:

When I made the amend:

How it helped me:


Chart #2

AMENDS I MAY NEVER MAKE

To whom I will make amends:

How I want to make amend:

What I fear:

Why I may not be able make amends:

When I made it or what I did instead:

Comments:

Date & Sign

Step #10

Continue to take personal inventory and, when we are wrong, promptly admit it.

It was the best of its day and would carry many passengers in luxury unsurpassed. It left port with pride and in an attempt to set a new record it went fast. It's owners said "God Himself couldn't sink it", and with this attitude they sped across the Atlantic not heeding the warnings of icebergs. Today the Titanic rests miles down on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean. Why? They never planned for the situation outside of their control - not even enough lifeboats on board. They never heeded the warnings and slowed down or maintained a proper watch in the night. Above all, the greatest flaw was the attitude of "...we are unstoppable - pride".
We have come a long way in these steps and we may feel that every area is addressed, but we are not perfect and step #10 is where we maintain our watch for the waters that are uncharted and icebergs of habits, fears, anger or shame may appear in our path.
Have you seen growth in your walk with God as a result of steps # 1 - 9? Explain.

Step #10 can be compared to spotting rust on a car and before it does great damage it is taken care of. Also step #10 is where we use the steps on a daily basis to maintain peace. If character defects are like rust, what kind of "rust" bothers you the most?

The Bible has a lot to say about not taking for granted the peace we have now and being prepared for times of stress. In Mark 14:38 we read "Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit is ready, but the flesh is weak." What does watch and pray mean to you?

In Psalm 85: 8-9 we read: "I will hear what God the Lord will speak, for He will speak peace to His people and to His saints; but let them not turn back to folly. Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him, that glory may dwell in our land."
The victory and peace we have today is not because of our strong determined will but because we have made the decision to turn our will and lives over to Him and live for Him.
Looking at Psalm 85:8-9, what promises and warnings are listed? In step #2 we looked at some of our personal insanity's like: if only thinking; fears; some of our habits and thirsts (see page 7-8) and what do we do if these and other things resurface.
What are you afraid of from your past struggles that could return and still affect you today?
How to handle a crisis: you have just faced a situation where one of your old character defects returned, what do you do?
1) give in and throw away the 12 steps - NO
2) punish yourself in some way - NO
3) so what do you do: a) extend grace to yourself - read Rom. 3:23 / I John 1:9
b) go through steps 1-9 as needed
c) never give up or lose heart - read Micah 7:8
God loves you and avoid isolation.

Continue to take personal inventory:Types:1) Spot check: anytime - it is needed
2) Daily, end of day, - helps us to focus on God
3) Periodic: reflects on our progress

Read I Thess. 5:17-22 / II Tim. 2:20-26
What do these texts say a daily inventory should contain (feel free to add more points than in text)

In order to maintain the peace we have gained through working the steps we need to be humble; transparent; depending on God; growing in our relationship with God by surrendering ourselves to God and yielding our will to His will.
Read Phil. 2: 5-11 Jesus is our example.
Finally use the inventory list for a daily "rust check".
Write out your own prayer of dependence on God for daily help and forgiveness.

Step #11

Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

He was following a new direction and he was no longer wandering, but following God. He remembers the day he left the familiar ways and lifestyle, it was a memory now...now his life had purpose and although he didn't understand it all, he trusted God. He was told by God to do new things he never would have tried had his life not gone a new direction but he trusted God. Sure he made mistakes but he prayed and thought of God and now God had great plans. Abraham's goal in life now was to know God's will and he did follow that will.
How has your life changed since you began the 12 steps?

Yes, life has changed for us in step #3 we made a decision to turn our lives and will over to God and steps #4-10 helped us to clean house; stop self-destructive behaviors; make peace with out past and release our shame and guilt.
Step # 11 is where we focus our will and our lives on God and get to know Him better on a daily basis and He will lead us daily.
In John 4:13-14 we read:
"Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks
of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I
shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into
into everlasting life".

We have talked about our thirsts in an earlier step and we all have thirsts; thirsts for physical needs, emotional needs and spiritual needs. However the danger exists when we tried to satisfy our thirsts apart from God and our thirst becomes #1 in our lives. But, we have seen our situation and have put our trust in Jesus Christ who alone can meet our needs as we put Him #1 in our lives as we did in step #3.
Are there thirsts in your life you have not given over to God? Explain.

So we focus our lives on God on a daily basis?
1) Prayer daily - morning - afternoon - evening.
2) Bible study.
3) Meditation on God's Word.
4) Begin fasting.
5) Confessing all known sin daily to God doing steps #4-10
6) Fellowship with other people in church and groups.
7) Seeking God's direction for our lives.

Which of these activities is hard for you to do?

God has great plans for our lives and we read about this Jeremiah 29:11.
"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper
you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future".

What do you think God's will for your life is?

Seeking God's will for our lives is found as we seek Him, He will lead us.

How to study the Bible, pray and meditate on it better.
Let us look at the Lord's prayer as an example: Matt. 6:9-13
v.9 Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
v.10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
v.11 Give us this day our daily bread
v.12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
v.13 And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil
one. For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

To study the Bible:

1) Keep a notebook handy to write thoughts down.
2) Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to speak through the Word to you.
3) Read the whole chapter in two translations if possible to get over all view.
4) Ask yourself these questions.... What does this text tell me about God, His abilities and what?
I'm to do...?
5) In one sentence what is the theme of the text to you?
6) What words stand out i.e. Father in heaven...

Matt. 6:9-13 on prayer: Our prayer contains
1) Worship for who God is v. 9-10, v. 13
2) Recognition that God is our source
3) Tells us we must forgive others
4) Tells us to ask God to lead us
5) Helps us to focus our thoughts on God and not just ask for
things i.e. He is not a cosmic Santa Clause

What would you include in prayer or what is important to you?

Does God speak to you through prayer and Bible study?

Meditation: Take the text: read it, study it, and apply its principles...
use your imagination, place yourself in text and make it personal to you
memorize text.

Try this: Read Genesis 12:1 Meditate on this scripture and imagine you are Abraham or Sarah and you are told what the text says and explore how you would feel?
Do one of the following two questions:
1) Read Galatians 2:20 / Philippians 4:6-9 / Psalm 127: 1-2
What do these verses say is our role and God's role in step #11? or
2) Read John 15: 4-11 What does Jesus promise to those who seek Him?

Abraham Lincoln once said, "I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I have nowhere else to go".
Finally it is God's will that: We seek Him Psalm 105:4
Return to the Lord Hosea 6:1
See ourselves as sinner's Rom 3:23
Look to Jesus as Savior Eph. 1:7
Saved through God's grace Eph. 2:8-9
Realize that God can help us Isa. 41:10
We can depend on Him Jer. 32:27
Put God first daily Matt. 6:33
We ask Him to forgive us I John 1:9
We don't condemn ourselves Rom. 8:1
We pray and worship God Phil.4:6
We humble ourselves Phil.2: 5-11
We love people I John 4:20-21
We know the peace that only Jesus gives Is. 26:3

Write your reflections on step #11

Step #12

Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
"Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see."

John Newton, the writer of this song experienced a change of direction, a spiritual awakening. He went from a slave trader to loving and respecting all people when he found Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. John Newton's spiritual awakening affected his life's direction and he was never the same. We during these 12 steps have had a spiritual awakening also. We have gone from: loneliness, shame, addictions and our instincts gone wild to balancing our emotional, physical and spiritual needs. Also, as we surrendered ourselves to God we found peace. The key to remember about step #12 is this idea of a spiritual awakening.
How have you changed since beginning the 12 steps?

Someone wrote in a song, " I was lost in a fantasy, that blinded me, until your love broke through"; for us this is what a spiritual awakening is all about. His love breaking through our denial. We were lost, blinded by many things until we acknowledged our needs and through steps 1-12 yielded ourselves to God.
Describe your spiritual awakening?

Andre Crouch wrote in one of his songs, "If I never had a problem I'd never know that God could solve them, I'd never know what faith in God could do...". What can you thank God for about your past?

Yes, the 12 steps have been the means to the end of finding peace through a relationship with God. Sure we were lost and as we yielded ourselves to Jesus we found peace.
In I Cor. 15:10 we read; " But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His
grace toward me was not in vain...."
II Cor. 5:17 we read:" Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new
creation; old things have passed away; behold, all
things have become new."

We are new people, but we are not perfect and we can help other people by as someone has said;" showing one beggar where we beggars found bread"
Thus we have had a spiritual awakening, so what do we do about it?

1) We tried to carry this message to others.
Read Mark 5:19 / John 3:16 / Gal. 6: 1 / Col. 1:9-13
What message of hope would you share with someone else and how?

We can share our experience and story and we can help in practical ways. We must remember that if we keep this message to ourselves we will die spiritually. We must evangelize. Matt. 28:19-20
2) Also we can practice these principles in all our affairs.
Phil. 1:6 says; "Being confident of this thing, that He who has begun a good work
in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ."
Eph. 2:10 says; "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good
works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in
them."

What situations in life can you practice the 12 steps?

We are not perfect and further spiritual growth is our goal through: prayer, Bible study, church, keeping a journal of thoughts and feelings, practices all steps.
Through these 12 steps two questions have popped up time and again.
1) What must I do to feel loved?
2) What must I do to feel valued?

Now my answer, if I feel that I must be perfect, rich, strong or have it all together to feel loved or valued then because I'm not that, I may try to run from life and hide in drugs.... sex.... other things.
However, if I put God first and have a strong relationship with Him through Jesus and if I treat others, as I would want to be treated, then I will know peace. Also, I must make it my goal to grow spiritually then I will experience more emotional stability.
What if I fall back into the old ways?
1) Never give up Micah 7:8
2) Confess to God all sin I John 1:9
3) Go through 12 steps
4) Pray and don't stay alone

How will you handle failure?

I Peter 2:9 "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of him who
who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light."

In the light of this verse how do you now feel about you?

In Summary:
In step #1 we admitted our powerlessness to handle our dependencies.
In step #2 we came to believe God could restore us to sanity, as we have done insane things.
In step #3 we yielded our will and our lives to God seeking His will rather than our own.
In step #4 we did a fearless inventory.
In step #5 we took that inventory and let God, others and ourselves wee us warts and all.
In steps #6-7 we in humility first became willing and then asked God to remove our sins and defects of character.
In steps # 8-9 we took responsibility for our actions and admitted to people we had
Harmed, our wrongs against them; it was our goal to make amends.
However if making amends would hurt them we would not do it directly.
In step #10 we kept a watch on our lives and through a daily personal inventory made Things right as needed.
In step # 11 our primary focus, no longer being "me", we made it our daily goal to know God's will through prayer, fasting, Bible reading and fellowship.
In step # 12 we, having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these 12 steps desired to Share this with others and to practice these 12 steps on a daily basis. For to know a new way of living, one where the Prince of Peace is Lord and we are at peace with God and man that is living.

Please record your feelings about this or any other step.

God Bless You

By Rev. Danny Blackwell

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