All in the Family

On January 12, 1971, All in the Family began a nine-year run, finishing the season as television’s top-rated show for six consecutive years. The show featured the Bunker family, which was both hilarious and dysfunctional. Perhaps the reason so many of us watched was because we came from dysfunctional families, as well.  I love what…

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The Windy City

If you are from the United States, you probably know that Chicago is known as the Windy City. But you may not know why. The nickname doesn’t come from the winds off Lake Michigan. The name “Windy City” was coined by 19th century journalists, in reference to the city’s leaders who were considered “windbags” and…

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Choose Hope

There is nothing more valuable than hope. Actor Christopher Reeve was right. “Once you choose hope, anything’s possible.” Scripture says, “Faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). Never forget this – in Christ there will always be hope. Charles Spurgeon said it so…

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Rest

Sleep is an important ingredient to recovery.  The Primary Care Collaborative did an extensive study on the effects of sleep on recovery. In their presentation in May, 2019, they summarized, “One of the symptoms of withdrawal is trouble sleeping. As insufficient sleep is correlated with poor self-control, it’s important for recovering addicts to do what…

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Airplane!

When I was in college, one of the greatest movies of all time came out – Airplane. There was a particular line in the movie that has stuck with me. “Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.” The audience roared with every corny line of Airplane. But the “sniffing glue” line…

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TV vs A Good Book

I’ve never heard anyone say, “The key to my recovery was watching more television.”  Groucho Marx said, “I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.” Research confirms a direct correlation between excessive television reviewing and lessened commitment within marriage. In his…

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Civil War Lesson

On April 12, 1861, Confederates fired 40 cannons at Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina. With that, the Civil War had begun. For the next four years, friends and families were divided by their competing visions and beliefs. Two former army buddies soon found themselves in conflict. Confederate General Braxton Bragg was in command…

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The Right Pursuit

Let me give you six words: We pursue relief; God pursues results. That’s how we get into addiction. We value comfort over character, pleasure over peace, and gratification over God. And relief over results. You will never find sobriety until you become okay with not always being happy. Sometimes, life hurts. And some level of…

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The Hammock

For those of us living in America, July 22 is a day of wild celebration. July 22 is . . .  National Mango Day National Penuche Fudge Day National Rat Catcher’s Day National Refreshment Day But more importantly, today is National Hammock Day.  The hammock comes from Spanish culture. They invented the hammock, or “stretch…

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Rebecca

In 1946, Rebecca was born to a poor family in Tennessee. Her dad was a tobacco farmer. After her birth, her dad paid the doctor’s fee with a bag of oatmeal. Raised with 11 siblings, Rebecca was determined to set out on her own after high school. She pursued a career as an author and…

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Failed Success

One night when I was about 13, I went to my school and ran around the track, imagining there were thousands of people in the stands cheering me on. In my mind, I won the race. But the race wasn’t real, and my “time” didn’t matter. It didn’t count.  We achieve a lot of things…

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Small Town Southern Man

What kind of legacy are you leaving for those coming behind you? In his song, “Small Town Southern Man,” Alan Jackson sang these powerful lyrics: “He was always proud of what he had, He said his greatest contribution Is the ones you leave behind, Raised on the ways and gentle kindness Of a small town…

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Nolan Ryan

Okay, baseball fans, here’s a trivia question for you. Who had more career no-hitters? Nolan Ryan Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez, Greg Maddux, Steve Carlton, Grover Alexander, Lefty Grove, Don Sutton, Don Drysdale, and Whitey Ford – combined Answer: 1. Nolan Ryan Nolan Ryan tossed a record seven no-hitters over his amazing 27-year career. By comparison,…

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Trumpets and Torches

Sometimes, God employs a strange battle plan. In Judges 7, we read about Gideon. God told him to take 300 Israelites into battle against 135,000 enemy soldiers. And it gets crazier. God said to bring as his weapons torches, trumpets, and clay pots.  Gideon would put the clay pots over the torches so the light…

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Bedrock of Recovery

Let’s talk about a bedrock of successful recovery. It’s called self-control. Jim Rohn said, “Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments.”  Scripture teaches, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7). Navy SEAL and leadership expert Brent Glesson writes, in The…

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Missing the Point

The great philosopher George Carlin said, “People who see life as anything more than pure entertainment are missing the point.”  A lot of people miss the point. Consider little Jimmy, for example.  Jimmy walked up to his teacher’s desk, holding a report card with a big red ‘F.’  “If I was you,” said Jimmy, “I…

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Do You Forgive Him?

Your spouse has cheated. Call it an addiction or a disease. Either way, it was a choice. And he cheated. Now you are hearing it from all directions.  “As a Christian, you need to forgive him.” Forgiveness may be the most misunderstood aspect of recovery. Let’s talk about what forgiveness is not. Here are five…

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The Luckiest Man

Lou Gehrig was known as the Iron Horse, as he played 2,130 consecutive games. For 14 years, his name was in the lineup every day. And then he came down with ALS. His weakening condition hastened a premature retirement from the game he loved. On July 4, 1939 (83 years ago today), Gehrig addressed a…

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The $50 Mistake

A man held up a convenience store. He asked the cashier if he had change for a $50 bill. Then he put his $50 bill on the counter. When the cashier opened the drawer, the robber walked around and pulled a gun on him and said, “Give me all the money in the cash register.” …

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Fly in the Soup

A man in a restaurant found a fly in his soup and called the waiter over. “What is that fly doing in my soup?” he asked the waiter. Looking into the soup, the waiter said, “I think he’s doing the backstroke.” In life, we often get more than we ordered. James said it like this:…

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The Five ‘C’s

“Every detail in our lives out of our love for God is worked into something good” (Romans 8:28 The Message).  God is weaving everything that happens to you, in you, and around you – into something great. You are who you are because of five things: Chemistry Connections Circumstances Consciousness Choices The one you control…

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Prairie Chickens

The story is told of an Indian brave who discovered an eagle’s egg that had fallen off a cliff. He placed the egg with several prairie chicken eggs. When the prairie chicken eggs hatched alongside the eagle’s egg, the birds all grew up together. The eagle took on the identity of a prairie chicken. One…

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There’s Still Hope

When we were considering possible names for our ministry five years ago, we immediately landed on the word “hope.” As survivors of addiction and trauma, Beth and I came to embrace hope as the fundamental key to our future. We have come to believe that, no matter the past, and despite all the pain, always…

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The Great Apple Race

As a former Rotarian, I appreciate the ingenuity of the Rotary Club of Huon Valley in Tasmania, Australia. Each year, these Rotarians host The Great Apple Race. Each participant launches his or her apple from the Huonville bridge. The apples then float 300 meters down the Huon River. The person whose apple crosses the finish…

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Trauma

There is no betrayal quite like spousal betrayal. Perhaps you’ve been there. Maybe you’re there now. You know what it is to discover your spouse has been living a double life with double standards. First, trauma knocked on your door. Then it kicked the door down. Now it has taken up residence in your home. …

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Yesterday

In 1963, Paul McCartney was living with Jane Asher, his girlfriend at the time, at her family’s home in London. One night, he had a dream of the good times of his youth. When he woke up the next morning, he sat at the piano at the foot of his bed and composed one of…

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Parlare Italiano?

A Swiss guy asked two Americans for directions. He asked, “Entschuldigung, koennen Sie Deutsch sprechen?”  The Americans responded with helpless stares. The man gave it another try. “Excusez-moi, parlez vous Français?”  Still no reply from the Americans. “Parlare Italiano?” Still, no reply. “Hablan ustedes Espanol?” Still, nothing.  The Swiss guy drove off in frustration. Then…

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Deck of Cards

We are all familiar with the metaphor about life that says we have all been “dealt a deck of cards.” You have to play the deck you’re dealt. You don’t get to play someone else’s hand. In your deck were several jokers and wild cards, of which you had no control: Place of birth Generational…

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1904 Olympics

The marathon at the 1904 Olympics in St. Louis was one for the ages. The first-place finisher, Fred Lorz, hitched a ride in a car to the end of the course after he was struck with serious cramping. Thomas Hicks, who finished second, was poisoned before the race, and had to be carried across the…

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Minimizing

In the 1975 movie, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the Black Knight (John Clease) lost both arms in the heat of combat. He said to King Arthur (Graham Chapman), “It’s just a flesh wound.”  The Black Knight did what addicts of all stripes have been doing since the Garden. He minimized. We only find…

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F.A.I.T.H. Goals

If you are to be successful, you will need to set goals – for your recovery, spiritual disciplines, exercise, reading, etc. The Bible says it like this: “An intelligent person aims at wise action, but a fool starts off in many directions” (Proverbs 17:24). What is a goal set in F.A.I.T.H.? It is: Focused: It’s…

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Legacy

Three elementary school friends were bragging about their ancestors. One boy said, “My grandfather was a World War II hero.” The second boy said, “That’s nothing! My great-grandfather led the American League in home runs in 1912.”  They turned to the third boy, who said, “I’ve got you both beat. If my great-grandfather was still…

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Crooked Sticks

God uses crooked sticks to draw straight lines.  That’s good news, because we are all crooked sticks. None of us has batted 1.000, thrown only touchdowns, and made every shot. While some of us are more crooked than others, we all are crooked, with a bent toward selfishness and indulgence.  But that’s okay. God is…

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The Ship

We find this intriguing verse buried deep within the pages of the Old Testament: “King Jehoshaphat built a fleet of trading ships to go to Ophir for gold, but they never set sail – they were wrecked at Ezion Geber” (1 Kings 22:48). The ships never set sail. So sad. That is a commentary on…

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Halloween, 1900

On Halloween, 1900, a ten-year-old boy wanted to go trick-or-treating with his older brothers. But when his mother told him he was too young, he flew into a rage. The boy stormed out of his house and punched an apple tree until his knuckles were raw.  His mother sat down with her son that night,…

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Dad

Allow me to pay tribute to a great man today – on what would have been his 98th birthday.  He went by many titles throughout his life: World War II hero Businessman Entrepreneur Husband Father Patriot But I had another title for him: Dad Dad taught me, more through his actions than his words, the…

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The Second Chance Club

The word on the street is that you’ve messed up. You have crossed some lines you never thought you’d cross. You have stumbled, fallen, relapsed, and stumbled again. Welcome to the Second Chance Club. Let me introduce you to some charter members: Abraham: He pretended his wife was his sister because he didn’t have enough…

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Frog for Breakfast

Mark Twain is purported to have said, “If you ever have to eat a live frog, it’s best to do so the first thing in the morning. That way you can go through the rest of your day knowing that the hardest task is behind you.” Moving from a bad yesterday to a better tomorrow…

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Snowflakes

You are a snowflake. Let me explain. Think of yourself as one snowflake. Now, a single snowflake can’t make much impact on the world by itself. But when one fragile snowflake sticks with enough other snowflakes, they can stop traffic. No one ever accomplished anything significant on his own. That is especially true of recovery.…

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Limp

In the Old Testament, we read the story about Jacob wrestling with God (Genesis 32:22-32). At one point, God wounded Jacob’s hip, leaving him with a lingering limp. Jacob was suddenly in a position of helplessness. He would live with that limp for the rest of his life.  I can relate. My addiction is my…

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Time to Journal

Dr. Catherine Cox did a thorough study of 301 of history’s greatest geniuses. She discovered one common denominator among them. All of them recorded their thoughts, feelings, ideas, and insights.  Today, we call it journaling. Author Kelsee Bailey suggests five reasons to journal. Journaling reduces stress. It improves immune function. It keeps the memory sharp.…

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Lucy Ricardo

Lucy Ricardo was one of the funniest TV characters ever. In one episode of I Love Lucy, she told Ricky and Fred, “Ethel and I have decided that you married a television set and not us.”  In another episode Lucy said, “Ever since I said ‘I do,’ there are so many things we don’t.” Too…

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B.L.A.S.T.

We can’t talk too much about triggers to addiction. From my work with hundreds of addicts, I have created B.L.A.S.T. Most of us tend to be triggered when we are bored, lonely, angry, stressed, or tired. Let me suggest four ways to avoid or mitigate your triggers. Pray. Recognize the temptation and pray for strength…

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Do What Works

There are four steps to progress: (a) saying you’ll do it, (b) doing it incorrectly, (c) explaining why you did it incorrectly, and (d) doing it the right way.  Solomon said, “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty” (Proverbs 14:23). Longfellow added, “It takes less time to do a…

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More Than Words

Communication is about more than the words we speak. Much more.   According to psychologist Albert Mehrabian, when we measure the credibility of another person’s words, we assign 55 percent of the weight to her body language, 38 percent to her tone, and just seven percent to the actual words.  That’s not to say that words…

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She Died at 122

Jeanne Calment’s record is still intact, though Kane Tanaka gave it a good ride. On April 19, Tanaka died at the age of 119. She was the world’s oldest person. But Tanaka fell short of Calment’s record of 122 years, making her the only person verified to have eclipsed the age of 120. Calment lived…

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God Has No Plan B

We hear it all the time. “Your addiction messed up God’s Plan A for your life. But his Plan B is still wonderful!” God has no Plan B. Let me repeat that. God has no Plan B. “We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and…

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Time to Learn

You will never come so far that you have nothing left to learn.   Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Every man I meet is my superior in some way. In that, I learn of him.”  I challenge you to learn one thing about recovery this week. There are many ways to do this. Pick one: Go to…

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Seinfeld

In a popular Seinfeld scene, there is this poignant interchange between Jerry and Elaine. Jerry: “Is this about me?” Elaine: “No.” Jerry: “Then I’ve lost interest.” And that is the problem for most of us. If something is not about us, we aren’t interested. But recovery takes us down a different path – one that…

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It’s a Volvo

Leroy was willing to do anything for a few bucks. Going door to door looking for odd jobs, he was thrilled when Mrs. Johnson offered him a job. “Go out back and paint my porch,” she told Leroy. A couple of hours later, Leroy told Mrs. Johnson he had completed the job. Mrs. Johnson said,…

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Nik Wallenda

On June 15, 2012, Nik Wallenda walked a tightrope that was suspended over Niagara Falls. That 1,500-foot steel wire could not be stabilized, so it swayed back and forth. As Wallenda inched his way across the wire, he prayed and sang praises to Christ with each step he took.  A few days before Christmas, 2020,…

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The Perfect Fit

One night at the dinner table, the wife asked her husband, “Why is it that you always give me the smaller piece of steak now? When we first got married, you always cut me the larger piece of the streak. You don’t love me anymore!” “Not at all,” said her husband.  “Then why do you…

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Bank Robbery Gone Bad

In 1972, two men, John Wojtowicz and Salvatore Naturile, robbed a French bank. They would have gotten away with it – had they gotten away. But caught up in their success, the young men grabbed the cash, then stood around the bank lobby unnecessarily. Because they didn’t leave as soon as they had the loot,…

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Two Natural Fears

According to psychologists, we are born with only two fears – the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises. Let’s focus on one of those – the fear of falling.  Here’s an idea. Try using your fear of falling as a positive. Alex Rodriguez said, “Fear of failure is what fuels me, keeps…

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The Hammer

In 1992, a farmer named Peter Whatling lost a hammer on his farm in England. On asking his friend, a metal detectorist, to help him find the lost hammer, they discovered 14,865 gold, silver, and bronze coins from the late Roman Empire. The entire hoard currently is valued at $4.3 million. The coins, along with…

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A Stranger Came to Church

One Sunday, the pastor announced that a special guest would be joining the congregation in mere minutes – Lucifer. He told the morning crowd, “The devil will be here in five minutes. If you want to leave, you better leave now.” Five minutes later, the devil arrived, walked into the church auditorium, and faced a…

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Your Gift to God

May 21 has been a busy day in history.  1842 – Hernando de Sota discovered the Mississippi River. 1881 – Clara Barton founded the American Red Cross.  1927 – Charles Lindbergh made the first nonstop flight across the Atlantic. 1932 – Amelia Earhart flew solo across the Atlantic Ocean. 2017 – Ringling Bros. and Barnum…

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$100

The pastor made a plea for his church to give to missions. He asked, “If any of you had a million dollars, how many of you would give it to missions?” Every hand went up. “What if you had $10,000?” Again, every hand went up. Then the pastor asked, “If you had $100, would you…

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The Dam Broke!

On March 26, 1913, in Columbus, Ohio, a man was spotted running through town. It was later discovered that he was running because he was late for an appointment. But out of curiosity, a young boy saw him, then ran behind him, to see where he was going. Then others joined in. As a joke,…

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Fear Factor

Fear is a great instructor. Carl Jung said, “Find out what a person fears most, and that is where he will develop next.” Elizabeth Elliot offered great insight on fear: “Fear arises when we imagine that everything depends on us.” That is especially true of recovery. I see it all the time – a fear…

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Old Man Rocking

A woman walked up to a little old man rocking in a chair on his porch. “I couldn’t help noticing how happy you look,” she said. “What’s your secret to a long happy life?” The man replied, “I smoke three packs of cigarettes a day. I also drink a case of whiskey, eat fatty foods,…

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463 Times

Genesis 4:3 reads, “And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering to the Lord.”  That was the first “It came to pass” in the Bible. But not the last. The Bible says it 463 times: “It came to pass.” I have claimed that…

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Overcoming Relapse

Does a relapse mean you no longer have anything to contribute? Let me answer that with a sports analogy. When Tom Brady throws an interception, they don’t pull him out of the game.  We have this hope: “In him we have redemption, through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of…

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Run!

A priest was walking down the street when he saw a little boy struggling to reach the doorbell at a nice home. After watching the boy stretch for several minutes, the priest came to the porch and offered to help. He rang the doorbell for the young boy and then asked, “Now what?” The boy…

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Anxiety

According to the CDC, 40 percent of Americans are struggling with anxiety or depression.  A Gallup poll indicated that 60 percent of Americans experience significant stress every day. The Bible is against anxiety. “Be anxious for nothing” (Philippians 4:6). One of the problems with anxiety is that it often leads to acting out behaviors that…

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Disqualified?

You fall into one of three camps: Disqualified Unqualified Qualified For those of us who have messed up, we are often tossed to the curb. We are considered by many to be disqualified from serving God. For others, we never had what it takes in the first place, meaning we are unqualified to serve. Only…

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Love Means

“Love means never having to say you’re sorry” (Ryan O’Neal, Love Story, 1970). That’s true. When you hurt your spouse, you don’t have to say you’re sorry. But it’s a really good idea. Sure, living amends and a change in behavior trump what you say. But learning to express remorse, repentance, and regret is huge.…

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If

There is one condition to a powerful relationship with God. See if you can find it in King David’s charge to his son Solomon. “And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every…

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5 Steps to Temptation

Sometimes, overcoming addiction is as simple as learning how to manage temptation. James said, “A person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed” (James 1:14) Greg Laurie identifies five steps to temptation. We think it.  We desire it. We process it. We do it. We regret it.  The…

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After the Disappointment

During his 45-year career as a composer, Ludwig van Beethoven wrote 722 symphonies, sonatas, and concertos. Even more amazing? Many of those compositions were written after Beethoven had lost his hearing. When Beethoven first noticed his hearing loss, he was devastated. Without the ability to hear the music he made, his life felt meaningless. He…

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One Bad Week

Rob was clearly dejected, so his buddy Ken asked what was wrong. Rob explained, “Three weeks ago, my uncle died and left me $50,000. Two weeks ago, a cousin I never knew died and left me $100,000. And last week, my grandfather died and left me a half a million dollars.” Ken asked, “So why…

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Quiet

For over 30 years, an acoustic ecologist (yes, that’s a thing) named Gordon Hempton has been compiling what he calls “The List of the Last Great Quiet Places.” It consists of places with at least 15 minutes of uninterrupted quiet during daylight hours. At last count there were only 12 quiet places in the entire…

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Titanic

For 35 years, Robert Ballard committed his life to finding the Titanic. On September 1, 1985, he completed his mission.  Since its sinking in 1857, the SS Central America was the object of hundreds of searches, until the shipwreck was finally discovered in 2014, with coins valued over $100 million.  In 1953, Jonas Salk discovered…

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Licking the Earth

Malcolm Muggeridge offered an example of deep reflection when he wrote A Twentieth-Century Testimony. Among his most profound statements: “When I look back on my life nowadays, which I sometimes do, what strikes me most forcibly about it is that what seemed at the time most significant and seductive, seems now most futile and absurd.”…

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Change

Not so long ago . . . An application was for employment. A program was a show on TV. A cursor used profanity. A keyboard was a piano. A mouse was a critter. Memory was what you lost with old age. A CD was a bank account. Log on meant adding wood to the fire.…

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Kindergarten Lessons

A Stanford professor, Dr. William Fry, studied kindergarteners and adults. He found two differences.  Children in kindergarten laugh 300 times a day, compared to adults, who laugh just 17 times a day. Children ask 125 questions per day, while adults ask just six.  Jesus asked more questions than he answered. He was asked 183 questions…

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Dreams

The Bible says, “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophecy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams” (Acts 2:17). But how do you know if your dream is from God? There are two ways. First, a…

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Books

There is no substitute for reading books.  Ivan Pavlow said, “If you want a new idea, read an old book.” And C.S. Lewis mused, “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” The Bible weighs in: “Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman…

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Long Walks

When Grandpa Jones celebrated his 100th birthday and 75th wedding anniversary simultaneously, his friends were impressed. “What is the key to your longevity?” they asked him. Grandpa Jones: “Long walks in the outdoors.” His friends asked what led him to spend so much time walking outside. Grandpa Jones: “When we got married 75 years ago,…

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Period of Abstinence

It is not uncommon for a therapist to recommend a period of sexual abstinence for a couple, following the addict’s disclosure. Often, the offending spouse responds with outrage. We often hear something like this: “I have come clean and done the hard work of disclosure. Why would we enter a period of abstinence now?” Believe…

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$5 Genius

A high school dropout struck up a conversation with a genius while sitting on a bench waiting on a bus. The dropout challenged the genius to a game. “We will ask each other questions, and when one guy can’t answer the other guy’s question, he pays him $5.” The genius agreed. Genius: “What is the…

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The Right Voice

We hear a lot of voices in our ears. Just a few examples . . .  The voice of conformity The voice of condemnation The voice of criticism But God offers the voice of encouragement. “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will…

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Marathon Man

Dustin Hoffman went three days without sleep to prepare for a scene in Marathon Man. Meryl Streep learned Polish and German for Sophie’s Choice. Christian Bale lost 60 pounds to play an emaciated insomniac in The Machinist. Jamie Foxx glued his eyes shut to play Ray Charles. And Leonardo DiCaprio slept in an animal carcass…

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Surrounded

In December, 1944, American forces were surrounded by German troops at Bastogne, Belgium. The German general demanded immediate and unconditional surrender. For the Americans, the situation appeared hopeless. Supplies were low and morale was lower. Enter General Anthony McAuliffe. He assembled the 101st Airborne Division and surveyed the situation. Then he told his men, “Men,…

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Problem or Opportunity?

You need to come to see your addiction as an opportunity, not just a problem. Peter Drucker was right when he said, “Effective people are not problem-minded; they are opportunity-minded.” There are several traits that are consistent among men and women who learn to overcome. Writing for Workplace Strategies, Stewart, Cooper, and Conn identified four…

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Home Cooked Meal

A man bragged to his friends that he had finally met the woman of his dreams. “What should I do next?” he asked them. “Invite her over for a home-cooked meal,” they told their friend. A few days later, the buddies got back together. Someone asked the man how things went with his date. “Horrible,”…

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Impossible to Done

Hudson Taylor, a missionary from the 1800s, said this about God doing the impossible in our lives: “There are three stages to every great work of God: first it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done.” Let me suggest a few things in your life that need to move from impossible to…

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Explanatory Style

Sometimes our defense of past actions is more injurious to those close to us than those actions themselves.  Let’s get academic. Dr. Martin Seligman is a former president of the American Psychological Association. Seligman says we all have what he calls “an explanatory style.” He defines this as “the manner in which we habitually explain…

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Brady’s Last TD

On January 23, Tom Brady completed a touchdown pass to Mike Evans in the fourth quarter of his final playoff game against the Los Angeles Rams. Evans proceeded to toss the ball into the stands. I know. I was there. A fan caught that ball from Evans. Security was on the spot to document that…

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Beamonesque

It’s a real word. You can look it up – beamonesque.  In the 1968 Olympics, American long jumper Bob Beamon won the gold medal. In the process, he obliterated the world record by two feet, with a jump of 29 feet, two and a half inches. His jump was so far ahead of any jump…

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A New Way to Think

You will never get out of addiction by relying on the same thinking that got you into addiction. Said another way, it was your best thinking that got you into this mess. Perhaps it is time to follow your heart rather than your brain.  Blaise Pascal said, “The heart has its reasons which reason knows…

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Before You Move Forward

Sometimes, it is a good idea to look at our past mistakes, to learn from them, so we can move on. Winston Churchill said, “The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you can see.” Paul spoke with an optimistic voice. “I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will…

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Wear a Tie

A man whose car broke down walked ten miles in the desert in search of water. He was barely able to make it to a small house on the edge of town. Knocking on the door, he then collapsed, near death. A man answered the door, and the poor fellow gasped, “Water! I need water!” …

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Idol Factory

“The human heart,” said John Calvin, “is a perpetual idol factory.” An idol is defined as “an image or representation of a god used as an object of worship.” And we’ve all had them. Some bow to multiple idols every day without even knowing it.  In America, we’ve even made a TV show out of…

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Artists

Gordon MacKenzie, with Hallmark Cards, did an interesting study. While leading art workshops at elementary schools, he asked first graders, “How many artists are in the room?” Every hand went up. MacKenzie asked the same question to a room full of third graders. Half the hands went up. And when he asked sixth graders, only…

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Advice from Gary Smalley

I’ve never met anyone who knew more about marriage than Gary Smalley. That’s why I put a lot of credence in this quote. Smalley observed that most marriages are 80 percent good and 20 percent bad. What makes the difference is which part they decide to focus on most. When we meet our future spouse,…

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A Bad Day

I have a dear friend who was able to fulfill a lifelong dream by attending the Super Bowl this year. What a great day!  Until it wasn’t.  After the game, someone stole his wallet. Shortly thereafter, he tore the meniscus in one of his knees.  We’ve all been there. We’ll all have bad days. The…

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Swim to Cuba

Diana Nyad stared out over the ocean from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, when she was nine years old. “Where is Cuba?” she asked her mother. That day, Diana’s fascination with Cuba took root. “One day,” she told herself, “I will swim there.” At the age of 29, Diana attempted to become the first person to swim…

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Clay

When the prophet Jeremiah observed the potter molding and fixing clay, he noticed something interesting. “Whenever the pot the potter was working on turned out badly, as sometimes happens when you are working with clay, the potter would simply start over and use the same clay to make another pot” (Jeremiah 18:4, The Message). God…

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Go for the Bronze!

Psychologist Vicki Medvec did an interesting study on Olympic medal winners. She found that athletes who won bronze medals were happier than those who won silver. The reason? The silver medalists were consumed with how close they came to winning gold, while the bronze winners were just happy to win a medal. Victory is not…

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The Final Frame

Recovery is all about the next step. But we also need to live today with the end in mind. In his book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covey writes, “Begin with the end in mind. All things are created twice.” You create your better future by imagining what it can be, and then…

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Two Lives

We each live two lives – the one we learn from, then the one after that. David agreed. He reflected on the difficulties of his past: “It was good for me to be afflicted, so that I could learn your statutes” (Psalm 119:71). Have you made mistakes? Of course you have! Consider the life you…

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Effort

Henry David Thoreau said, “I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to escalate his life by conscious endeavor.” Translation – you can do just about anything if you try hard enough. I have observed that the day recovery starts is the day we go all in – never before. …

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Conformity

In 1951, a social psychologist named Solomon Asch did a series of groundbreaking studies on the psychology of conformity. He gave students a vision test, in which they were asked to determine which lines on a sheet of paper were the same length. But before a student was given the opportunity to respond, several actors…

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Free Haircuts

A barber gave a rabbi a haircut, then refused to accept pay. “I don’t charge clergy for haircuts,” he said. The next day, when the barber arrived at work, he found a loaf of Jewish rye bread on his doorstep. The next day, he gave a free haircut to the local priest. One day later,…

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Broken Trust

Therapist Darlene Lancer suggests seven steps to rebuilding trust with the one you have hurt. Listen to her pain. Empathize with her.  Ask what you can do to gain her trust again. Change your behaviors. Take responsibility for what you have done. Express genuine regret. Embrace open communication.  The Bible is pro-trust. Paul wrote, “Love…

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French Fries and English Muffins

The English language can be confusing. Consider the following evidence. There is no ham in a hamburger or egg in eggplant. English muffins were not invented in England and French fries did not originate in France. Quicksand takes you down slowly. If vegetarians eat vegetables, why don’t humanitarians eat humans? We park on driveways but…

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Just One More Hour

The next time you are tempted to do something stupid, try this – wait one hour before you do it.  If ever there was a man who wished he had put off his disobedience for just one more hour, it was King Saul. The Book of 1 Samuel tells the story. Samuel assured the Israelites…

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Self-Control

That great theologian Lucy, of Peanuts fame, once mused, “I can change the world; it’s me I have trouble with.” I can relate. Fixing everyone else is far easier than fixing myself. Francis of Assisi said it well: “Above all the grace and the gifts that Christ gives to his beloved is that of overcoming…

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Toothpaste

A hundred years ago, only seven percent of Americans brushed their teeth.  In 1929, a company called Pepsodent set out to change that. Within a few years, more than half of all Americans had become daily brushers. The company’s strategy was not to invent a substance that would clean teeth – that was the easy…

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Frog with No Legs

A scientist did a study on frogs. He told a frog, “Jump!” And the frog jumped four feet in the air. The scientist wrote in his journal, “Frog with four feet can jump four feet in the air.” The scientist cut off one of the frog’s legs and said, “Jump!” The frog jumped three feet…

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Your Past

In The Green Mile, Tom Hanks’ character said, “I guess sometimes the past just catches up with you, whether you want it to or not.” Way back in the early part of Scripture we find this verse: “If you have sinned against the Lord, be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23). Translation:…

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When Life Begins

A pastor, priest, and rabbi debated the subject of when life begins. The priest said, “Life begins at conception.” The rabbi argued, “Life begins at birth.” They waited for the pastor’s response. After much thought, he said, “I have five kids. For me, life began when the last of them finally left home.” When our…

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Keeping Score

Do you need to lose a few pounds? Chances are, the answer is yes. The average person weighs 35 pounds more than the average person weighed 60 years ago. The average man stands 5’9” and weighs 198 pounds, with women at 5’4” and 171 pounds. So how do you lose weight? Here’s one simple trick. …

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Dinosaurs

Several visitors to the Chicago Museum of Natural History marveled at the site of the dinosaur bones. “How old are those bones?” they asked one of the workers. “This particular dinosaur is three million, seven years, three months, and five days old,” said the worker. The visitors were impressed with the specificity of the man’s…

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Bigger Is Not Better

On this date in 1770, Daniel Lambert was born. He was a slim, athletic boy. But at the age of 21, Daniel’s vice became known. He was addicted to unhealthy foods. Out of control, Daniel would balloon up to 705 pounds, making him the heaviest person who ever lived. He died in 1809, at the…

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Bagpipes

A college freshman was struggling to keep up with his classwork assignments. When his parents came to visit him, they asked him what the problem was. He said, “The guys in the apartment above me keep their TV up too loud. I can’t concentrate.” His parents asked, “What do you do when they get too…

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Preparation

In the 1980s, I used to go to large water parks for fun. There was a huge water park in Dallas called Wet ‘N Wild, which was one of the largest such parks at the time. One day, as I was walking around with some friends, we saw several other guys at the park who…

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Read

I’m typing this from 30,000 feet, on a flight from Baltimore to Minneapolis. It is 9:15 p.m. and I just noticed something amazing. The plane is almost full, but from my seat in the back I can see that not a single reading light is on in front of me. That means that about 120…

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Desire Is Not Enough

I have known and worked with hundreds of sex addicts. And each one shares the same thing in common – a desire to get well. The problem is a disconnect between our will and an actual plan to make it happen.   Benjamin Franklin was determined to avoid that trap. Ben identified 13 virtues that he…

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Bad Typing

I’m going to try something now. Try to figure out what I’m about to do. Iolwenjjvpoteuoecfrullehis3. Did you figure it out? Answer: I closed my eyes, and then typed. The reason many of us fail in life and in recovery is that we have been blinded to what works – meetings, disclosure, therapy, spiritual disciplines,…

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UFOs

There have been reported UFO sightings forever. They come in waves. For example, after Orson Wells’ radio program, War of the Worlds, in 1939, there was an escalation in UFO reports. The same thing followed the Roswell, New Mexico sighting in 1947. But the greatest spike in UFO sightings in the United States came in…

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The Barefoot Bandit

Colton Harris Moore was born on March 21, 1991, in the sleepy town of Mount Vernon, Washington. Colton was bored. So one day, at the age of 17, he decided to become the Barefoot Bandit. Removing his shoes, Colton broke into hunting and fishing cabins near his home. This escalated to stealing cars and trucks,…

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Mustard Seed

Jesus said you need faith the size of a . . . Bowling ball Mountain Purple people eater Mustard seed If you guessed (d) mustard seed, consider yourself a Bible scholar. Did you know that a mustard seed measures only two millimeters in diameter, yet grows into a nine-foot tree? Thus, the seed grows into…

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Antares

On the next clear night, look for Antares. It will be the 15th brightest star in the sky. You will find it in the Scorpius constellation. Now, 15th brightest may not sound too bright – until you consider Antares is a whopping 550 light years away. (That means that what you see when you look…

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Knuckleball Joe

Phil and Joe Niekro were two of the best knuckleball pitchers of all time, amassing a total of 535 wins between them. Joe was one of the Houston Astros’ greatest pitchers ever. I attended many of his games in my high school and college years, in the old Astrodome. But it was what Joe did…

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Library Joke

Here’s your library joke for the day. A man walked into a library and the librarian pulled out a gun and shot him dead. The cops rushed in and arrested the librarian on the spot.  “Why am I under arrest?” asked the librarian. “Are you arresting me for shooting that guy?” “No,” said the cops.…

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33 Roses

In order to express his love for his young girlfriend, a young man ordered 21 red roses for her 21st birthday. But because he was so kind to the florist, unknown to him, the florist added an additional dozen roses out of sheer kindness. Thus, the 21-year-old lady got 33 roses, along with a card…

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Instant Cake Mix

In 1947, General Mills introduced its first instant cake mix. They expected overwhelming success, but the cake mix didn’t sell well. The company was confused, because it had reduced a difficult task to a mix that only required adding water. The problem was that the process was made too easy. General Mills hired a marketing…

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Failures

Writing for Psychology Today, Dr. Lawrence R. Samuel cites seven keys to success: Reject the model of money, power, and fame. Avoid comparisons to others. Take a holistic view of yourself. Celebrate your victories, no matter how small. Accept failures. Prioritize relationships. Leave something behind. Let’s talk about #5. It is important, in any aspect…

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No More Spins

A politician was asked for his opinion of whisky. “If you mean that demon drink that poisons the mind, pollutes the body, desecrates family life, and inflames sinners, I’m against it. But if you mean the elixir of Christmas cheer, the shield against winter chill, the taxable potion that puts needed funds into public coffers…

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Legacy

In the sixteenth century, an English playwright named John Haywood died about a decade after William Shakespeare was born. He was less famous than Shakespeare, but perhaps you’ve heard of some of his work. Haywood coined the following phrases: “Many hands make light work,” “Better late than never,” “A rolling stone gathers no moss,” and…

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Listen to Willie

According to the Cleveland Clinic, 80 percent of our thoughts are negative. Willie Nelson was right: “Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.” Let me help. Here are a few positive thoughts that will shape your future. When you have a few moments alone, perhaps driving in your car…

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Forget, Don’t Forget

What you think today, you will do tomorrow, and you will become the day after that. The good news is, you get to choose what thoughts will consume your mind.  Here’s the problem – we tend to remember what we should forget and we forget what we should remember.  The same Bible that says, “Forget…

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Four Men in an Elevator

On August 10, 1948, a television producer named Allen Funt debuted a reality TV show called Candid Camera. In one episode, called “Face the Rear,” an unsuspecting person boarded an elevator and did what normal people do – he faced the front. That’s when three actors entered the elevator, and each faced the rear. Hidden…

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The Easy Road

We always take the easiest route possible. Not so, with God. As his children were enroute to the Promised Land, we read this: “God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land” (Exodus 13:17). Recovery is the road less…

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Jump Shot

His name was Kenny Sailors. At 5’7”, he was the shortest player on the basketball team of the University of Wyoming. In 1946, Sailors led his team to the national championship, and he was named the MVP of the tournament. How did he do it? Kenny Sailors became the first jump shooter in college basketball.…

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Helping Others

Are you trying to help someone else with his or her recovery? I’ve been at this a while now, have degrees, certifications, and a decent amount of experience. I sponsor 17 guys in SA or SAA (too many, I know), and have taken 100 guys through my 90-Day Recovery Process. So let me offer the…

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Earl Campbell

One day after practice, a veteran Houston Oiler football player came over to Head Coach Bum Phillips and said, “Coach, I don’t know if you knew this or not, but that rookie, Earl Campbell, was unable to finish the mile run at the end of practice.” Bum responded, “That’s good to know. The next time…

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Recovery Plan

Recovery is all about doing the right thing . . . again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again. And again. William James, the father of American psychology, said, “All…

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Dominoes

In 1974, Bob Speca was a sophomore at Marple Newton High School in Broomall, Pennsylvania, when he bought his first two boxes of dominoes. He was instantly intrigued by the science of stacking them – by the hundreds – side by side. In an appearance on The Tonight Show, Bob set the world record by…

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Fit

We all want to become more physically fit. At least we say we do. I can identify with the man who asked his wife, “Does this body make me look fat?” With the new year, I decided to join a health club. On my first day, I was going to work on the cardio machines.…

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Circumstances

One fellow asked his friend, “How are you doing?” His friend: “Pretty good, under the circumstances.” Fellow: “What are you doing there?” None of us has to live under our circumstances. We can live above them. God uses your circumstances. Oswald Chambers said, “It is misleading to imagine that we are developed in spite of…

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Crazy Horse

In 1948, Korczak Ziolkowski was commissioned by Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear to design a mountain carving that would honor the famous Native American hero Crazy Horse. Ziolkowski devoted the next 30 years to carving the statue, which, when completed, will be nine times larger than the carving on Mt. Rushmore. Ziolkowski died in 1982,…

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The Sin Process

Relapse is a process, not an event. Thomas Kempis said, “Sin is first a simple suggestion, then a strong imagination, then delight, then assent.” The man who grew up with Jesus said, “Each one of us is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it…

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Rest

You wanna hear something that will blow your mind? The command of rest is just as much a part of the Ten Commandments as the command about murder. Or adultery.  “Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest” (Exodus 34:21). …

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Super Bowl Prediction

It is the little stuff that matters. Why? Because doing the little things, over and over, brings big results.  God brings victory, little by little. Speaking of Israel’s enemies, he promised, “Little by little I will drive them out” (Exodus 23:30). I’m a huge fan of American football. Today is the big day – THE…

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Extremes

The warmest temperature ever recorded in the United States was 134 degrees, in Death Valley, California, on July 10, 1913. The coldest temperature ever recorded in the U.S. was -80 degrees in Prospect Creek, Alaska, on January 23, 1971.  I’m guessing neither option sounds like your next vacation. We live in a world of extremes.…

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15% of Your Day

The average person spends 145 minutes on social media each day. That is 15 percent of our waking hours. And that is a sign that too many of us spend too much time wasting too many opportunities. There are two kinds of people in the world – those who watch things happen and those who…

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The Problem You Know

Some of us are more comfortable with the problem we know than the solution we don’t. Three guys went fishing, when an angel showed up, offering to heal any physical maladies they might have. The angel healed the first man’s back, then the second man’s poor eyesight. Then the angel approached the third fisherman, who…

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It Took 43,800

Noah’s ark took 43,800 days to build. It was the length of one and a half football fields, and designed at a ratio of 30:5:3, which designers use to this day. If the average animal had been a sheep, the ark could house 125,000 animals. Have you visited the National Zoo in Washington, D.C.? You…

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A 100-Year Lease

From 2010-2015 I served as pastor of First Baptist Church in Conroe, Texas. In looking back over those years, we have much for which we are grateful – membership growth, attendance, baptisms, adding two additional services, record offerings, programs, hiring of new staff, and the renovation of six buildings. But it was something else we…

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Four Flights of Stairs

A man climbed four flights of stairs, made his way to the roof of the building, then jumped off. Predictably, he broke both arms and legs, but fortunately survived. They asked him what went wrong. He said, “The problem was that I landed.” Actually, the problem was that he jumped. And that he climbed those…

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Try One Thing

If you are trying to design a better future, try this one thing . . . Sow today what you want to see tomorrow. Robert Louis Stevenson said, “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you sow.” And Scripture says, “Whatever one sows, that will he also reap”…

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Stay Fresh

A British historian named Arnold Toynbee spent 30 years (1934-1964) studying the rise and fall of 19 civilizations. He found one constant throughout. The collapse of every civilization never came from outside attacks. They all fell from within. It was when they ceased to create the future that they began to die.  R.T. Kendall wrote,…

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Brain Problem

Longitudinal studies show that as we age, the cognitive center of gravity tends to shift from the right brain (imagination) to the left brain (logic). Thus, with time, we begin to live less out of imagination and more from memory. We stop creating the future and start repeating the past. We stop living by faith…

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Thirsty

If you are to enjoy lasting recovery, you must stay thirsty for more, every day. In The Pursuit of God, A.W. Tozer wrote, “I thirst to be made more thirsty still.” Jesus said, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink” (John 7:37). There are several ways in which you might stay…

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Pray for My Hearing

The local pastor could tell something was bothering one of his church members. After the morning service he pulled the man aside and asked him, “What’s wrong, Robert?” Robert: “I need you to pray for my hearing.” The pastor put his hands on Robert’s ears and prayed for healing. Then he asked, “How’s your hearing…

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No Chocolate for 40 Years

Jack Hayford quit chocolate, and he stuck to that commitment for 40 years. Hayford said, “I made a decision against myself,” meaning it required action he’d rather not take.  If you want to get out of debt, you have to make decisions against yourself financially. It’s called budgeting. If you want to lose weight, you…

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Five Phases of Recovery

Quitting your addiction is the easy part. Staying quit is the hard part. Mark Twain said, “Quitting smoking is easy. I’ve done it dozens of times.” Dr. John F. Kelly estimates relapse rates at 75 percent. In order to secure lasting recovery, Kelly suggests five phases to the process.  Precontemplation: not yet ready for change…

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Manure

In 1894, the London Times ran a feature story on a pending crisis that threatened civilization. In a word, manure. London had a poop problem. As their population hit one million, that meant a need for more horses for transportation. London had 50,000 horses, with the average horse producing 30 pounds of manure per day.…

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The First Elevator

In 1853, America hosted its first World’s Fair in New York City. The man who stole the show was Elisha Otis, who introduced the first elevator brake. Until then, very few buildings in New York had more than five stories, because nobody wanted to climb that many steps.  Thanks to Otis, by 1900, New York…

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My Pastor

One year ago today, my pastor and spiritual father died. Dr. Cecil Sewell led me to faith in Jesus, baptized me, conducted my wedding, and conducted my dad’s funeral. He was always there when I needed him. His loss leaves a huge void in my life.  But in death we can see our God. The…

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Happiness

A recent Psychology Today article describes happiness as “an electrifying and elusive state.” The writer offers research that suggests that happiness is not as much tied to our circumstances as it is to our state of mind.  Marcus Aurelius agreed: “The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.”  Scripture offers several…

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Beatles’ First #1 Hit

On this date in 1964, The Beatles landed their first #1 hit on the Billboard list. Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, I Want to Hold Your Hand sold 12 million copies, more than any other song from the Beatles’ incredible run.  The opening lyrics are as follows. Oh yeah, I’ll tell you somethin’…

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Billy’s Prayer

Billy had been misbehaving and was sent to his room. After a while, he emerged and told his mother that he had thought it over and had said a prayer. “Fine,” said his mother. “If you ask God to help you to not misbehave, he will help you.” Billy said, “Oh, I didn’t ask God…

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Donation

Father O’Malley answered the phone. “Hello, is this Father O’Malley?” “It is.” “This is the IRS. Can you help us?” “I can.” “Do you know a Ted Houlihan?” “I do.” “Is he a member of your church?” “He is.” “Did he donate $10,000 to the church?” “He will.” It would appear that Ted Houlihan attempted…

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He Asked Me First

Just days before her wedding, a young woman wanted to be certain of her fiancée’s fidelity. So she set up a date for an attractive woman with her soon-to-be husband.  She told the woman, “I’ll arrange for Jack to take you to dinner, then for a walk on the beach under the moon. To put…

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Routine

Life is all about routine. A study by Duke University found that 45 percent of our behavior is automatic. Malcolm Gladwell, author of Blink, writes, “I have a new way of doing things, and I don’t care if you think I’m crazy.” Sometimes, “a new way of doing things” is crazy. There are some routines…

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Tests

The battle for sobriety can be viewed in one of two ways. You can see it as a temptation from the enemy that sets you up for failure. Or you can see it as a test from the Father that sets you up for success. As I remember my academic career, I fondly recall those…

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300 Cockroaches

A woman went into a pet store and asked for 300 cockroaches. The shop owner said, “I can do that, but if you don’t mind me asking, why on earth would you want 300 cockroaches?” The woman replied, “Well, I’m moving today, and my lease says I must leave the place in the same condition…

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The Eyes Have It

It is true that what you take in through your eyes will affect your brain. But the opposite is also true. What you have already stored in your brain will affect what you look at.  Neurologist and author Richard Restak wrote, “What the eye sees is determined by what the brain has learned.”  There is…

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One More Round

On September 7, 1892, John L. Sullivan stepped into the boxing ring in New Orleans as the undefeated, undisputed heavyweight champion. His opponent was a relative unknown, by the name of Gentleman Jim Corbett. By all accounts, Sullivan dominated the fight, but he was unable to score a knockout. In those days, fights continued until…

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God Chose You!

One of the most amazing thoughts to ever consider is this – God chose you. Knowing you would fall, live in addiction, and make a general mess of things, still, God chose you.  Jesus was clear and Jesus was direct: “I have chosen you” (John 15:16). Oswald Chambers reminds us, “It is not that you…

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Lion vs Elephant

A lion woke up one morning, intent on asserting his position as king of the jungle. So he approached the monkey and roared, “Who is the mightiest animal in the jungle?” “You are, Master,” said the quivering monkey. The lion asked the wildebeest, tiger, and leopard the same question. Each gave the same respectful reply.…

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An Unbeatable Baseball Record

There are several baseball records that will never be broken: Rickey Henderson’s 1,406 stolen bases, Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak, and Nolan Ryan’s seven no-hitters, to name a few.  But the record of records belongs to Cy Young. Over his 20-year career, Young pitched an incredible 749 complete games. That is more than the 200…

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Can of Worms

A parrot named Zac set the world record for opening the most cans in one minute, by a bird. In 2012, in San Jose, Zac opened a remarkable 35 cans in less than 60 seconds, with his bare beak. There’s another can that has been opened – a lot. A can of worms. The phrase,…

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Your Mind

Adrian Rogers said, “The same Jesus who turned water into wine can transform your home, your life, your family, and your future. He is still in the miracle-working business, and his business is the business of transformation.” How does this process of transformation take place? Paul said it begins between our ears. “Be transformed by…

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Trains

An old farmer took his wife to a railway station for the first time. They looked at the engine that would power the train, and the old farmer shook his head. “It will never start,” he told his wife. The conductor started the engine, and the farmer told his wife, “It will never move.” After…

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Future

God wants you to have a future that is better than your past. Don’t take my word for it. Hear the words of brilliant politicians from both sides of the American political aisle. Republican Vice President Dan Quayle said, “The future will be better tomorrow.” And Democrat Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said, “Americans…

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You’re a Were

Read this passage, and try to pick out the key word. “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexual offenders, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of…

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Life Preserver

As the boat was sinking, the captain asked those on board, “Does anyone know how to pray?”  One man stood and said, “Yes, Captain, I do!”  “Good,” said the captain. “You better start now. Our boat is sinking. The rest of us will put on life-preservers. We are one short.”  Addiction has sunk more boats…

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Rudy

On this date in history something interesting happened. On January 5, 1950, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer hit #1 on the Billboard Pop Charts. The song would sell over 8 million copies and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1985.  What is so interesting about that? Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is a Christmas…

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Suicide by Pleasure

John Mark Comer wrote, in Live No Lies, “Addiction is a kind of prolonged suicide by pleasure.”  Let that sink in – prolonged suicide by pleasure. Another way to say it is that addiction will take you further than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more…

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Talking Monkey

A man bought a talking monkey from the pet shop. That night he took the monkey to a local bar and bet everyone $10 that his monkey could talk. But the monkey never spoke a word. When he got home, the monkey chattered up a storm. So the next day, the man took the monkey…

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Storms

On August 27, 2020, Hurricane Laura hit Cameron, Louisiana, with winds of 150 mph. The storm left $19.1 billion in damages and took 81 lives. Yet, despite the catastrophic damage, a few things were left unscathed. A plastic trash can remained unmoved outside a local business. A single crepe myrtle tree stood proudly among the…

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New Song

There’s just something about this day that calls for new beginnings. The psalmist proclaimed, “Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him” (Psalm 98:1). Did you catch the musical selection? A new song. I like old songs. I…

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Breakthrough Is Coming!

If you wake up to a new year tomorrow, it will only be for one reason. God isn’t through with you yet. Perhaps your recovery did not progress in 2021 as much as you had hoped. Perhaps you find yourself mired in chronic relapse. Perhaps you are feeling frustrated, manipulated, repudiated, stagnated, and agitated. All…

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God’s Plans for Your Life

Let me offer you a challenging thought from Oswald Chambers: “God wants to do with you what he has never done with anyone else.” Paul told young Timothy, “Put these abilities to work; throw yourself into your tasks so that everyone may notice your improvement and progress” (1 Timothy 4:15).  This is the glorious truth.…

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Today’s Holiday

There are a lot of important holidays this time of year. Perhaps you’ve heard of some of them: Pearl Harbor Day (Dec. 7), Winter Solstice (Dec. 21), Christmas (Dec. 25), New Year’s Eve (Dec. 31), and New Year’s Day (Jan. 1).   Not to be outdone, December 29 is “Still Need to Do Day.” This is…

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Editor

When I completed the manuscript for one of my books a couple of years ago, I sent it to a new editor. A few weeks later, she returned my manuscript, citing at least 100 mistakes. My response? I found a new editor. We all want to be edited – up to a point. I can…

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Howdy Doody

Here’s a great trivia question for our older readers. What was the first nationally broadcast television program for children?  Answer: “Howdy Doody,” which premiered on this date, December 27, 1947. This iconic NBC show always began with these words: “Say kids, what time is it?” The kids would answer, “It’s Howdy Doody time.” For its…

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A Christmas Poem

There are no lights upon your tree, The gift you want is to be free. You’ve sat alone throughout the night, When from the darkness shines a light. There’s Still Hope this Christmas Season, And from that hope there comes the reason You can make it day to day, No matter what your past may…

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Home for Christmas

In 1943, Bing Crosby became the first to record I’ll Be Home for Christmas. What you probably didn’t know is that the song was written about a soldier in World War II, who was hoping to come home to be with his family for Christmas. With that in mind, James Kimball Cannon wrote this verse.…

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Bethlehem of God’s Son

The words of Oswald Chambers ring true this Christmas Season: “Your body is the Bethlehem of God’s Son.” Paul said it like this: “Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19). The next time you are tempted to use your body for selfish indulgences, remember who else lives there. God isn’t…

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Ten-Speed Bikes

Linus, of Peanuts fame, had it right when he said, “Life is like a ten-speed bike. Most of us have gears we never use.” I have a ten-speed bike. I like to ride the neighborhood for a little exercise. But after using the bike for a couple of years, I’m thinking about going back to…

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The Key to Success

What is the key to success, in recovery or in life? For answers, let’s turn to the ancient Athenian playwriter Sophocles, who was the most accomplished writer and thinker of the fifth century, B.C. Seven of Sophocles’ tragedies have survived to this day, and he is widely considered one of the greatest minds of all…

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The Paradox of Choice

An interesting study was done with two groups of people. One group was told to memorize seven numbers in succession, walk down a long hall, then recite those numbers to someone on the other end of the hallway. The second group was told to memorize just two numbers, and then recite those numbers to someone…

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Rule of 5

“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established” (Proverbs 16:3). This says two things. First, we must have plans. Second, when we commit our work to God, those plans will be blessed. Let’s start with your plan. I have a simple question for you. What is your plan to stay sober…

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Four Words

Following the resurrection, Jesus showed up at a crowded room of disciples who still did not believe. They were fearful for their very lives, without purpose, direction, or hope. Jesus spoke just four simple words. “Peace be with you” (John 20:19). I’m sure there are several other sets of four-word statements the disciples would have…

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Quiet Please

There are a lot of people who have a lot to say about getting a lot of rest. Solomon: “There is a time to be silent and a time to speak” (Ecclesiastes 3:7). Blaise Pascal: “All men’s miseries derive from not being able to be in a quiet room alone.”  Mother Teresa: “God cannot be…

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Six Factors

If you are going to get serious about your addiction, you will have to move from the talking phase to the doing phase. And for that you will need a plan. Jesus said it like this: “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to…

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Heidi

It happened one year ago today – at 2:10 pm Eastern Standard Time. It was one of the most painful, gut-wrenching moments of my life. It was at that moment that I held my beloved 15-year-old Westie in my arms for the final time, as she received the injection that ended her life. Putting Heidi…

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1928 Olympics

Something strange happened during the rowing competition at the 1928 Olympics. Australian rower Bobby Pearce was in the middle of the race, when a duck and her little ducklings swam in front of his boat. Pearce slowed down, in order to let the ducks safely pass. This put him behind the competition, as none of…

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Red Tomatoes

A boy went by a farmer’s garden to buy some tomatoes for his mother. Pointing at a ripe, red tomato, he asked the farmer, “How much is this one?”  The farmer said, “The ripe ones are $1 each.” “And how much are the green ones that aren’t yet ripe?” asked the boy. “Those are just…

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Little Things

Recovery is big. But the steps to recovery are small. Don’t worry so much about where you will be in five years; focus on the next five minutes. Dale Carnegie was right: “Do the little things and the rest will take care of itself.”  Here are a few “little things” you need to do. Go…

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Excuses

Lou Holtz said, “Some people find solutions; others find excuses. Excuses are easier to find than solutions.”  We’ve been making excuses for a long time. The first excuse-maker was a lady named Eve. Perhaps you’ve heard of her. We read, “Then the Lord said to the woman, ‘What is this that you have done?’ The…

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Recognize Him

One of the least likely people was awarded the right to be among the first to see the resurrected Christ. Mary Magdalene stood in the empty tomb. And then we read this intriguing verse: “She turned around and saw Jesus, but she did not recognize him” (John 20:14). Now, it would be so easy to…

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Dicky Maegle

It was perhaps the most bizarre play in the history of college football. Rice University squared off against mighty Alabama on January 1, 1954, in the Cotton Bowl. Dicky Maegle was an All-American halfback for Rice. Taking the ball at his own five-yard-line, he broke free along the Alabama sideline. As he passed the 50-yard-line,…

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How Bad Is It?

Are you married to a person in denial? Maybe it’s you who is in denial. How do you know if your sexual compulsivity rises to the level of addiction, really?  In his article, “Sex Addiction 101,” Robert Weiss helps the porn user understand the magnitude of his problem. He writes, “The simple truth is that…

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Church Janitor

Jerry never learned to read or write, but he somehow always found a way to get by. After coming to Christ, he went to his pastor, looking for a job. His pastor offered him the janitor’s job at the church. But when he discovered that Jerry couldn’t read or write, he told him he did…

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Marathons

A marathon is 26 miles, 385 yards. Each year, more than 800 marathons are held throughout the world. Larger marathons can draw tens of thousands of participants. And every one of those runners has two things on his or her mind during the entire race – pain and the finish line.  Life is a marathon.…

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PPA

I am a card-carrying member of PPA – People Pleasers Anonymous. I suspect most of us are. And making others happy is generally a good thing, up to a point. But as addicts, we can cross that point, almost without notice. Norman Vincent Peale said, “The problem with most of us is that we’d rather…

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Cash In

Justin Timberlake delivered this line in The Social Network (2010): “A million dollars isn’t cool. You know what’s cool? A billion dollars.”  Paul wrote, “The love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10).  Money can present challenges for anyone. But that is especially true for the sex addict. I’m sure you…

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Never Hang Your Head

I stepped into my first recovery meeting in 2013. I have met a lot of men and women with successful recovery. I have something to learn from all of them. But as I think about each one, there is a common thread that runs throughout each one.  Those with solid recovery come from different backgrounds,…

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Little Things

Focus on the little things. Make a meeting. Call someone in recovery. Work one Step. Pray a short prayer. Go for a walk. Read a good devotional. Memorize one verse of Scripture. That’s how you secure sobriety – by stringing together several “little things.”  Dale Carnegie said, “Do the little things right and the rest…

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Tickets on the Windshield

Bob came out of a local store, only to be greeted by a motorcycle cop writing a ticket. Bob asked, “Why the ticket?”  The officer replied, “Your tags are expired.” Bob responded, “You are a pencil-necked idiot!” The cop proceeded to add three more tickets to the car’s windshield. “What do you have to say…

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Devils and Angels

Saint Augustine said, “It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels.” Clinicians cite several benefits of humility. Let’s name two of them. Dr. Anna Schaffner concludes, “A humble mindset has significant positive effects on our cognitive, interpersonal, and decision-making skills.” And David Robson writes, “Humility fosters trust,…

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Standing Tall

Men usually quit growing by age 18, women a little earlier. And we know that people tend to shrink with age. But did you know we shrink throughout each day? You are your tallest first thing each morning. According to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, this may be due to gravity compressing cartilage in our spines…

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Milestones

Okay, sports fans. Here are just a few things that happened on this date in history. How many do you remember? In 1961, George Blanda of the Houston Oilers passed for 505 yards and seven touchdowns in a 49-13 rout of the New York Titans. That same day, Cleveland’s Jim Brown rushed for 237 yards…

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Never Too Late

On November 14, 2009, Tom Thompson stepped onto the football field to attempt his first extra point as a place-kicker for NCAA Division III Austin College, of Sherman, Texas. His kick was good. That would be the last point Austin College would score against Trinity University that mild Saturday afternoon.  This may not sound newsworthy…

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A Three-Letter Word

There’s this little word we don’t hear much about these days. Sin. What, exactly, is sin? I will leave the biblical word for “sin,” all Greek lessons, as well as theological ramblings for another day. I love the way Oswald Chambers says it: “Sin is a fundamental relationship. It is not wrong doing, but wrong…

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The Sun Will Rise Again

When the sun sets on Barrow, Alaska, in mid-November, it won’t be seen again until late January. But no one doubts the sun’s existence just because they don’t see it for a while. Why? They know the sun is still there because they’ve seen it before. You can be certain of God’s presence because you’ve…

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Passion

Recovery without passion is just talk. So what is passion? The word “passion” comes from the root pati, meaning to suffer. Anything about which we are passionate is something for which we are willing to suffer.  Sure it is hard to stay sober. Yes, your commitment to recovery will invite attack and temptation. But if…

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Halftime

I am a long-suffering Houston sports fan. Exhibit A – April 4, 1983 The University of Houston Cougars lost the NCAA Finals to huge underdog North Carolina State on the final play of the game. Exhibit B – January 3, 1993  The Houston Oilers led the Buffalo Bills, 28-3 at halftime in an NFL playoff…

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Moving On

On the night of his betrayal, Jesus said something interesting to his betrayer. He told Judas, “What you are going to do, do quickly” (John 13:27).  It wasn’t that Jesus was commending the betrayal, but that he wanted to move quickly beyond this historic mistake. You have made colossal mistakes. Every sex addict has. Now…

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The One

Most of us are in a lifelong search for “the one.” We reason: “If I can find the one [fill in the blank] that I’m searching for, I will finally be happy.”  In my own life, I found my “one,” the very best:  Wife Son Church Home Car Degree Vacation Career Hobby Still, it was…

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Only the Body Matters

As a young man, over the course of about 20 years, I was the proud owner of five different 1966 Mustang convertibles, each in excellent condition. As a classic car lover, I attended numerous car shows each year. And I found a couple of things interesting.  We overlook the dings and scratches in the other…

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Jump!

There is a story in the AA “Big Book” that reads, “I stopped wondering ‘Why me?’ a long time ago. It’s like a man standing on a bridge in the middle of a river with his pants on fire, wondering why his pants are on fire. It doesn’t matter. Just jump in the water!” The…

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Grover Cleveland

It was perhaps the greatest government cover-up in history. In May of 1893, President Grover Cleveland noticed a rough spot on the roof of his mouth, which was soon diagnosed as a cancerous growth the size of a quarter. At the time, America was going through a financial crisis, and the White House feared that…

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A Way Out

Are you going through a “down” time right now? Is life a struggle? Is your sobriety in jeopardy? If you are walking through a valley this week, take heart. God has you right where he wants you.  Oswald Chambers said, “If a man cannot prove his religion in the valley, it is not worth anything.”…

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Reach vs Grasp

Let me give you a thought to ponder. Our reach must exceed our grasp. In other words, no matter how much you have grasped (in recovery or in life), keep reaching. Never let what you have keep you from reaching for more.  Paul said, “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but…

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Bricks

I love the words of David Brinkley: “A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.” Booker T. Washington said it a bit differently. “Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles…

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New Data on Sex Addiction

Here are three statistics on sex addiction that may surprise you. 42.7% of internet users view pornography. There are more sex addicts in America than the population of 47 states. More than 80% of female porn addicts seek out multiple partners, casual sex, and affairs, which is more than men in all three categories.  The…

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Co-MVPs

Something rare happened in baseball, 20 years ago today. Arizona Diamondbacks pitchers Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling were named co-MVPs of the World Series. This was unprecedented because in each Series, one player always stands out as the most outstanding performer. But this year was different. Johnson and Schilling each pitched multiple games of near…

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Disease or Choice?

Is addiction a disease or a choice? The short answer is yes. Health expert Lorelie Rozzano writes, “Many believe addiction is not a disease because it’s caused by the person’s choice to use. That’s true. The first time is a choice.” In simple terms, we “catch” this disease in various ways, often from trauma, abuse,…

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Politicians

This time next year, those of us who live in America will be going to the polls. Groucho Marx offered a world of wisdom on the subject: “Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies.” Ron Paul may have had it right: “I don’t…

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Love Each Other

Mr. Jones called a pastor whom he had never met to come by his house to pray for his wife. “What’s wrong with your wife?” asked the pastor. “She is very sick and extremely contagious. Can you come pray for her now?” “Sure,” said the pastor. “But why didn’t you call your own pastor to…

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Prison Letters

A man in prison ministry told me an alarming story at a recent conference. For Mother’s Day, he offered Mother’s Day cards to each of the inmates, which they could use to send a note to their mothers. About 700 inmates did so. For Father’s Day, just one month later, he made the same offer.…

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Pardon Me

If your husband or wife has been unfaithful; if they have been caught in a web of addiction, you have a decision to make. Stay or leave? Your spouse’s infidelity has opened the door for you to pick Door #1 or Door #2 with a clear conscience. No one can fault you if you decide…

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Hold Fast

In the iconic sitcom, I Love Lucy, Lucy Ricardo said to her husband Ricky, “Ever since we said ‘I do,’ there are so many things we don’t.” Nothing is easier to do than drift apart as a married couple. Other interests and responsibilities can crowd out the relationship that matters most, and we put our…

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Creativity

Be creative with your recovery. Have you ever considered that before? I have embraced the basics of recovery for years, checking every box.  Go to meetings? Check. Work the steps? Check. Get a sponsor? Check. Become a sponsor? Check. Pray daily? Check. Make calls? Check.  But it can become easy to fall into a rut.…

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Confident

I share the same birthday with one of baseball’s all-time colorful players – 50 years apart. Dizzy Dean played 13 seasons of Big League ball, with a WW2 mixed in. A four-time all-star, World Series champion, and league MVP, Dean amassed 150 wins to go along with a career ERA of just 3.02. But it…

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False Assumptions

It happened on this date in 1964. The British Invasion continued on the Ed Sullivan Show. Following the appearance of the more clean-cut Beatles, the Rolling Stones showed up. Their loud music, heavy beat, and anti-establishment look certainly caught poor Ed off guard. They were not what he was expecting.  Life is full of false…

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Faith

Faith is an indispensable element of successful recovery.  Corrie ten Boom said this about faith: “Faith sees the invisible, believes the unbelievable, and receives the impossible.” And Jesus promised, “Whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you ask in faith” (Matthew 21:22).  The role of faith in recovery has now been recognized by…

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Spin Cycle

A young boy went into a grocery store and asked for laundry detergent. The grocer asked, “Is this for your clothes?” “No,” said the boy. “It’s for my dog.” The grocer said, “This stuff isn’t made for dogs. It could kill him.” The boy took the detergent anyway. A few days later, he returned to…

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What’s Wrong with Secrets?

Let’s talk about secrets.  Oswald Chambers wrote, “We are only what we are in the dark; all the rest is reputation.”  Dr. Grant Brenner writes about the effects of secrets on our well-being. “Secrecy reduces well-being, while sharing can increase satisfaction. Keeping secrets takes work and is fatiguing. Secrets make us lonely and sad. They…

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Three Words

Before Jesus taught us what to pray, he taught us how to pray.  Jesus said, “When you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly” (Matthew 6:6). Let me highlight…

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Excusable

Addicts are funny. We have mastered the science of justification for just about any behavior. Our middle circle behaviors are written mostly in pencil, not ink. And it’s true – there are things we can “get away with” that don’t break our sobriety. They are acceptable. But not smart. G.K. Chesterton said, “We do not…

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Potential

We choose people based on what they have already done. That’s true with the NFL draft, job openings, and marriage proposals. We don’t hire potential. Imagine a senior pastor telling his leadership team he has found the perfect student pastor. He describes the candidate thusly: “This young man is bright, has great leadership traits, and…

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Humility. Addiction.

Humility. Addiction. What’s the connection between the two? Surprisingly, the connection is quite strong. We act out when we lose self-control, and we lose self-control when we become obsessed with ourselves.  Psychologist Jeremy Dean writes, “Oddly, perhaps, studies have found that an obsession with the self can paradoxically lead to lower self-control.” So what’s the…

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Objective

J.I. Packer wrote, “What makes life worthwhile is having a big objective, something that catches our imagination.” What catches your imagination? What is your grand purpose for living? What objective gets you out of bed each day?  If you are in recovery, let me suggest a few objectives that you might find useful, all based…

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Unmasked

Do you remember this verse from the New Testament? “We all, with unveiled face, are being transformed into the image of God” (2 Corinthians 3:18). That’s powerful! Did you catch the two words that tell us the requirement for being truly transformed by God?  Unveiled face. We must remove the mask and be willing to…

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Keep Your Pile

A college student sent a letter back home to his parents. “Dear Mom and Dad, I was thrown out of college for smoking pot. I just got married, because I got my girlfriend pregnant. And I was arrested for stealing cash from work.” The student continued. “None of that is true. But what is true…

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Juneteenth

Juneteenth began in Galveston, Texas. The holiday commemorates June 19, 1865, whenGordon Granger, a Union general, rode into Galveston and announced that slavery had been ended. Reaction among the newly freed slaves ranged from shock to jubilant celebration.  There’s more to the story. The slaves had actually gained their freedom when President Lincoln issued the…

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A Headless Crown

There’s an interesting verse in the Book of Lamentations. “The crown has fallen from our head” (Lamentations 5:16). Have you lost your crown? Were you walking in victory, sobriety, and recovery, only to have the crown fall off your head? The Journal of American Medical Association tells us that 40-60 percent of all addicts suffer…

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NFL Passing Leader

Who am I? In 2011, I became the all-time passing leader in pro football history, with 79,816 passing yards. Along the way, I broke records set by Brett Favre, Warren Moon, Peyton Manning, Dan Marino, Philip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers, and Tom Brady. My name is Anthony Calvillo. Perhaps you’ve never heard of Anthony Calvillo. That…

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Hard Work

Dwayne Johnson said, “Success isn’t always about greatness. It’s about consistency. Consistent hard work leads to success. Greatness will come.” Calvin Coolidge said it like this: “Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers. It may not be difficult to store up in the mind a vast quantity of facts within a comparatively short time, but the ability…

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Certain Uncertainty

One of the marks of the Christian walk is uncertainty. The nature of the spiritual life is that we are certain of our uncertainty.  Scripture confirms this: “It has not yet been revealed what we shall be” (1 John 3:2). Let me say it like this. Certainty is the mark of common sense life, while…

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Owner’s Manual

The following was a phone conversation between the owner of his first computer and technical support. Support: “How may I help you?” Customer: “I’m having trouble with my computer.” Support: “What’s the problem?” Customer: “The screen is black.” Support: “Is your computer on?” Customer: “I don’t know.” Support: “Do you see the power button?” Customer:…

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Miracle Prayer

Let’s put God to the test today. Let’s pray for a miracle. May the psalmist’s words be ours: “You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples” (Psalm 77:14).  Hmm. Where should we start? We are mostly addicts here, so maybe we should start there. Let’s pray for a miracle…

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Saving Grain

This day in history, October 5, 1947, Harry Truman became the first president to give a televised presidential address from the White House. What was it that was so pressing as to demand such a historic speech? President Truman went to the airwaves 74 years ago today to ask the American people for real sacrifice.…

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Decisions, Decisions

The average person makes 35,000 decisions per day. And after we make decisions, our decisions make us. The Bible offers lots of help in this arena.  “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed” (Proverbs 15:22). “In all your ways, acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:6). You will…

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Keep Swinging

A reporter landed a rare interview with an aging Ted Williams. They were discussing the current state of hitting in the major leagues. The reporter asked Williams, widely considered the greatest hitter in history, how well he would hit against the current crop of pitchers. “I’d hit about .280,” said Williams. Reporter: “Just .280? You…

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No Full-Blown Addicts

“No one is a full-blown addict.” That unusual assertion is offered by Susan Farmer, with the Savannah NewDay Counseling Center of Savannah, Georgia. Farmer’s point is that for every addict, there is still room for things to progress even further into his disease.  What it took to satisfy the addict’s lust a year ago no…

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Can vs Should

Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. Think about your middle circle behaviors. Sure, you can watch certain movies, you can go to certain places, and you can look at certain social media posts. None of those will be a breach in sobriety, and they can seem pretty harmless in the moment. …

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B.L.A.S.T.

I recently revealed a survey from my Life Recovery Groups that found that the old anacronym H.A.L.T. was really not relevant. While most of the guys are triggered by anger, loneliness, and tiredness, no one said hunger was really a problem. And the groups agreed that two other triggers should be added to the list:…

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Beware of Dog!

A shopper entered a country store and saw a sign that read, “Beware of Dog!” Then he noticed a harmless hound dog sleeping in the middle of the floor. The man asked the proprietor, “Is that the dog I’m supposed to beware of?” The worker said, “Yep! That’s him!” The shopper said, “Your dog doesn’t…

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Baseball History

Okay, baseball fans, what happened on August 9, 1925, that never happened in any other game in history? I’ll give you a hint. The batter was Bobby Veach, of the New York Yankees. Veach compiled a lifetime batting average of .310, and from 1915 to 1922 had more RBI and extra base hits than Babe…

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The Normal Husband

A good friend recently sent me a picture of a sign that read, “My next husband will be normal.” Good luck with that. Alfred Adler, 18th century Austrian psychotherapist, quipped, “The only normal people are the ones you don’t know very well.” Here’s my challenge. Quit looking for the right spouse and become the right…

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A Trigger We Miss

I’ve written a lot on triggers lately. A friend who faithfully reads the Recovery Minute sent me an email, identifying a huge trigger which I have missed. “Victory,” he said. And he has a really good point. Through the years, I have noticed that a lot of relapse occurs on the heels of victory. A…

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Team Sport

Recovery is a team sport. Even in childhood, Jesus gave us an example of community. One day, his parents went looking for him, only to find him at church. The Bible says, “They found him in the temple. And he said to them, ‘Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?’”…

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Row Your Boat

“He made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side” (Mark 6:45). I’m guessing that when Jesus did that, his followers yawned, then mumbled to each other, “Here goes another boring boat ride; I wonder what Jesus will have for us on the other side of the lake.” Fast…

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The Next Chapter

Don’t be defeated by your defeats. Defeats are inevitable, but being defeated by defeats is a choice you don’t have to make.  Tom Landry said, “Something constructive comes from every defeat.” Zig Ziglar said it like this: “Failure is a detour, not a dead-end street.”  Here’s the lesson – You can’t rewrite history, but you…

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Worship First

Here’s an interesting John Piper quote to start your day: “Missions exist because worship doesn’t.” My initial response to that: Huh? Let’s unpack that. What I think Piper is saying is that when I fully engage God in worship, the result will be a changed life, one which will be used to impact the lives…

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A Generous God

We all know people who are very generous – with their time, talents, and treasure. We often credit them for having a “generous heart.” But put this quote in your pipe and smoke it. Giving does not begin with a generous heart, but with a generous God. We love God because he first loved us.…

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Alone

It is good to gather – in 12-Step meetings, church fellowships, and other groups. But is it possible that we have become what Francis Chan calls “professional gatherers”?  Read the following quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer. In Life Together, he wrote, “Whoever cannot be alone should beware of community. Such people will only do harm to…

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Smarter than Einstein

At the conclusion of the morning service, the congregation filed out of the building. As he passed by the pastor, one attendee told him, “Pastor, you must be smarter than Albert Einstein!” The pastor thanked the man for his praise, but for the next seven days, he wondered what the comment meant. So the next…

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Progress

Brene Brown said, “Perfection is the enemy of good.”  Our task is not to find perfection, but progress. After all, “There is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins” (Ecclesiastes 7:20).  Even the great apostle Paul admitted, “Not that I have already attained this or am already perfect, but I…

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Bald Eagles

A park ranger found a man in the woods, chewing on a cooked bald eagle. “You know that bird is an endangered species, don’t you? I’m going to have to bring you in.” The ranger brought the man to court, where the man pleaded for forgiveness. “Your honor, I was starving, and lost in the…

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El-Shaddai

Sometimes, blessing is followed by darkness. And darkness is followed by blessing. Consider the story of Abraham. God had promised him a son, a nation, and a legacy. But in the short run, Abraham got this: “When the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abraham; and behold, horror and great darkness fell…

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Baby Mops

For every person who (a) has an infant, and (b) wants clean floors, Kenji Kawakami is your hero. The Japanese inventor created “Baby Mops.” His creation is quite simple, but effective. The contraption consists of a bunch of tiny mops, which can be attached to the baby’s clothing, so that when the infant crawls across…

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One Impressive Young Man

The year was 1990. Hugh Gallagher entered an essay contest in search of a college scholarship. His assignment was to highlight his personal achievements from the first 18 years of his life. Among Hugh’s claims:  “I write award-winning operas. I often tread water for three days at a time. Using only a hoe and a…

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Tripping Over Me

In their song, Jesus, Friend of Sinners, Casting Crowns included the following words: “Jesus, friend of sinners, the truth’s become so hard to see. The world is on their way to you, but they’re tripping over me.” Too often, it is those of us who claim a Christian faith and who claim real sobriety who…

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Some Don’t Stick

In the middle of Jesus’ public ministry, we find this startling verse: “Many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him” (John 6:66). I would find that disheartening. My initial response would be to chase after those who had dropped out. Not so with Jesus. In the latter part of John 6, we…

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Start Here

J.I. Packer said, “What makes life worthwhile is having an objective.” What is your objective in life? Any kind of success, especially in the arena of recovery, must have a clear objective at its genesis. Notice the process suggested by wise Solomon: “Put your outdoor work in order and get your fields ready; after that;…

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TV or Microwave?

A blonde asked the salesman at Best Buy how much the TV that she was admiring would cost. “I don’t serve blondes,” the salesman replied. She returned the next day, having dyed her hair red, and asked the same clerk the same question. “I don’t serve blondes,” the man answered. The next day, the blonde…

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How We All Learn to Walk

How did you learn how to walk? I wasn’t there, but I’ve come to this conclusion: Walking is nothing more than controlled falling.  You learned to walk by learning to quit falling. It was only by not falling that you learned how to walk. No one walks without falling a few zillion times first. That’s…

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Doulothentes

Slavery is still prevalent throughout the world. About 46 million people in 167 different countries are slaves. In a spiritual sense, we are all slaves – to something or somebody. Freedom is simply the ability to decide whose slave you’re going to be.  Paul wrote to an entire church that had been set free. “But…

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84 Divided by 2

The Universities of North Carolina and Toronto did a fascinating study of 84 people. All 84 participants were given the same set of math problems, but half were placed in a bright room, while the other half were seated in a dark room. The ones in the dark room performed better on the test. Why?…

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The Bride’s One Complaint

R.C. Sproul wrote, “If Jesus has one complaint, it would be, ‘My bride never talks to me.’” Notice something Jesus said three times, just before offering us the Model Prayer.  “When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites” (Matthew 6:5). “When you pray, go into your room” (6:6). “When you pray, do not babble…

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Why Willpower Won’t Work

Willpower won’t work.  Dr. Dean Drosnes explains: “Why is surrender, not willpower, the key to recovery? The answer lies in brain science. Prolonged [instances of addictive behavior] damage the prefrontal cortex, which is involved in problem-solving, self-awareness, and controlled behavior. Addiction damages the very part of the brain that could enable the addict to stop.”…

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Giving

Let’s talk about giving. Start with this truth: Giving is not about what God wants from you, but what God wants for you.  Do you really believe Jesus had your best interests at heart when he said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35)? If you answered “yes,” than make your…

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Deliver the Cheese

One of the most famous stories in the Bible is that of David and Goliath. You will remember that as a child, David was anointed the future king of Israel. Not long after that, Goliath led the Philistines into battle against Israel. Of course, it was David who slayed the giant, paving the way for…

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The First Teddy Bear

President Theodore Roosevelt was an avid outdoorsman. In 1902, he was invited on a hunting trip in Mississippi, which he was delighted to join. When hunting dogs cornered a small bear, and several hunters managed to tie that bear to a tree, the scene was set for the President to make an easy kill. But…

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An American Hero

On September 20, 1965, American soldier Jerry Curtis was captured in Viet Nam. He would spend the next 7.5 years in prison, suffering from indescribable malnutrition, torture, and isolation. What saved him was a pinhole in his prison cell, through which a tiny light illuminated an otherwise dark existence. Through that light, Curtis found hope.…

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Farmer Jones

At a national conference for farmers, Farmer Jones introduced a new method of farming to the crowd. His assignment for the next year was to go around the country and teach hundreds of other farmers his new technique. At the convention the next year, Farmer Jones was brought onto the stage. They asked him if…

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What God Will Never Do

In a group call with several pastor friends, one of them made a profound statement that has stuck with me: “God will never give you a life where he’s not needed.”  Rick Warren said it like this: “You never know God is all you need until God is all you have.”  And Jesus declared, “Apart…

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Brown Apples

A four-year-old boy was eating an apple in the back seat of the car when he asked, “Daddy, why is my apple turning brown?” “Because,” his dad explained, “after you ate the skin off, the meat of the apple came into contact with the air, which caused it to oxidize, thus changing its molecular structure…

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Accountability

You’ll never get far in life – or recovery – without accountability.  Leadership expert Stephen Covey said it like this: “Accountability breeds responsibility.” In other words, if you want to live responsibly, you must first live accountably. (Yes, “accountably” is a word.) The Book of Ezekiel tells a great story of accountability. God made the…

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Facing Fear

I’m afraid of heights, foul balls at a baseball game, and most Mexican restaurants.  What are you afraid of? We all have our unique fears. And that’s okay. It’s what we do with those fears that matters. Canadian author and psychologist John White said, “True courage does not consist of the absence of fear, but…

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Church vs. Casino

Question: What’s the difference between a prayer at church and a prayer at the casino? Answer: The guy who prays in the casino does so with much more intensity.  Unfortunately, the only time most of us engage in prayer is when we are desperate for healing, forgiveness, or a miracle. I love these words, which…

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The New Colossus

You may not be familiar with poet Emma Lazarus. And you may not recognize the title of her most famous work, The New Colossus. But if you are from America, you will be very familiar with the following words from that poem. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.…

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24-Hour Challenge

Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, author of Words That Hurt, Words That Heal, states that he asks audiences whether they can go 24 hours without saying any unkind words about or to anyone. Invariably, very few people answer “yes.”  Here’s my challenge. Commit to going the next 24 hours without doing any of the following: Criticizing your…

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Trash Day

Dr. Joyce Brothers mused, “Marriage is not just a spiritual communion. It is also remembering to take out the trash.” If you are a sex addict, you need to take out the trash. Solomon said, “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy” (Proverbs 28:13). Your…

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Trust

I recently preached at The Church of the Cross, in Bradenton, Florida, where Pastor Stan Pavlovich is one of my closest friends. Before the second of three services, I met a dear lady named Mary. Mary is an amazing woman. This 87-year-old Navy veteran of the Korean War has many talents, including baking. Mary gave…

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Ranking Top 6 Triggers

The topic in my seven Freedom Groups a few weeks ago was “Triggers.” As part of the exercise, I had the guys in each group tell us what their primary trigger is, that makes them want to act out. The list began with the traditional H.A.L.T. triggers (hungry, angry, lonely, tired). I added two more:…

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Chopsticks

A close friend returned from an extended mission trip in Asia. He came home with great stories and deepened faith. And one other thing. A pair of chopsticks.  Talk about annoying. Every time we had lunch at a Chinese restaurant, he ate everything but the soup with chopsticks. And he wasn’t even good at it.…

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Restore Your Losses

There’s this funny thing about the Christian life. The more you help others, the better off you are. Let’s apply this principle to prayer. We find this interesting little verse toward the end of the Book of Job. Despite Job’s great losses and pain, the rest of his life became the best of his life.…

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Bless God!

There is this little verse in the New Testament that we often miss. “Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink’” (John 4:7). When Jesus made this request of the woman at the well, he was teaching us a bigger lesson.  How many times have we been expecting Jesus Christ to quench our thirst when…

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B.S.

There is an old acronym in recovery called H.A.L.T. It reminds us that we are often triggered when we are (a) hungry, (a) angry, (c) lonely, and (d) tired. Let me add two more: B.S. We are at risk when we are bored and stressed. 1. Boredom We get into trouble if we aren’t into…

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The Bachelor

Next season, The Bachelor will resume its 20-year run on network television. Because some years have had multiple seasons, this will mark the 25th season for the top-rated show. As you probably know, the premise is that a man picks his wife from among several women who essentially audition for the job each week, in…

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Are You Really an Addict?

Many of the men I meet ask the predictable question, “How do I know if I really have an addiction?” Let me suggest four criteria for any addiction. A need for more of the behavior to achieve the desired effect. Feelings of withdrawal when unable to engage in the addictive behavior. Repeated unsuccessful attempts to…

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Death of a President

On this day in history, 1875, Senator Andrew Johnson died at the home of his daughter. Yes, you read that correctly – Senator Andrew Johnson. You see, the first president to be impeached also became the first (and only) president to serve in the United States Senate – after his presidency.  On December 29, 1998,…

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Betrayal Pain

Guys, if you think your sexual betrayal isn’t hurting anybody, read on. Barbara Steffens reports, in “The Traumatic Nature of Disclosure for Wives of Sexual Addicts,” that a survey of 63 wives of self-identified sex addicts found that 70 percent of these women met most criteria for a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder, and 71…

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Box of Chocolates

“My mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” (Forrest Gump, 1994) A good example of a “box of chocolates” occurred for me when I attended an SA meeting a couple of years ago. That night, a newcomer was present. I talked to him for a…

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Cherry-Colored Cats

A man from Vermont wrote to circus owner P.T. Barnum, offering a cherry-colored cat for $100. Barnum, always on the lookout for rare attractions for his “Greatest Show on Earth,” replied that he would send the money if the man guaranteed the cat was genuine. When Barnum received a written guarantee, he sent the money.…

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Killing Weeds

In our neighborhood, the mowing crew hired by the homeowners’ association took the easy way out. Rather than weed-eating around all the trees and mailboxes, they sprayed some kind of poison on the grass, killing the weeds. Not only did this look bad – dead grass around the trees and mailboxes – a dog in…

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Day of Atonement

It only happened once a year. The high priest entered the Most Holy Place of the tenth day of the seventh month of Israel’s lunar calendar. It was the Day of Atonement.  The priest would remove his ornate robe and put on simple linen garments, then sacrifice a bull for his own sins and the…

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The Key to Failure

The key to failure is to try to please everybody.  Pulitzer Prize winner Herbert Bayard Swope said it like this: “I can’t tell you the formula for success, but I can give you a formula for failure: try to please everyone.” Jesus was anything but a people-pleaser. Case in point: Jesus healed many people, but…

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#1 Reason People Fail

There is a simple reason many of us don’t reach our goal of recovery – we quit too soon. Thomas Edison was right: “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” Scaling Mount Recovery will be the hardest climb of your life. There…

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Wiley Post

On this day in history – July 22, 1933 – Wiley Post became the first man to fly solo around the world in his plywood monocoque aircraft, the Winnie Mae. It took seven days, 19 hours, which was 21 hours less than his previous record which he had set in 1931 with a navigator, Harold…

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A Worthy Goal

Two months ago, the Ohio legislature considered a bill that would criminalize “distracted driving.” During a Senate hearing on the subject, a state senator participated in the meeting via Zoom – while driving in his car. Of course, given the topic of discussion, the senator didn’t want his colleagues to know that he was driving…

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Exceptional Moments

Never let an experience with God come before God himself. Don’t live for the exceptional moments. These unusual touches of glory are surprises, which God only brings our way when he sees that we are no longer in danger of being led away by them.  The extravagant can lead to complacency and self-assurance.  Oswald Chambers…

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Not Complicated

I love this simple promise from God: “I will give your life to you as a prize in all places, wherever you go” (Jeremiah 45:5). It is when we abandon our own plans and dreams for God’s plans and dreams that we find glorious freedom. Abandonment means to refuse yourself the luxury of asking any…

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Want Great Things?

The prophet asked, “Do you seek great things for yourself?” (Jeremiah 45:5). I suspect all of us would answer this question with a resounding “yes.” But true happiness does not come from seeking things. It comes from seeking God.  Oswald Chambers said, “There is nothing easier than getting into the right relationship with God, unless…

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Independence Day

For those living in America, today is Independence Day, which marks the birth of the nation. When I celebrate today, two thoughts come to mind. “Our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20). “What the people want is very simple – they want an America as good as its promise” (Barbara Jordan). We have daily readers…

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Golf Lesson

A man loved to play golf. But one Saturday, he returned home from a game with a friend much earlier than expected. His wife asked him why his game ended so soon. The man answered, “Would you want to play with someone who whines about every shot, complains constantly about the course, and makes obnoxious…

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Pa Won’t Like It!

A farm boy accidentally overturned his wagon load of corn. His neighbor heard him scream in frustration, and invited him over for lunch.  The farm boy said, “That’s mighty nice of you to invite me over, but Pa won’t like it.” After a delicious lunch, the man said to the farm boy, “Before lunch, you…

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