The Value of Still

Being still is both necessary and difficult for most of us. Suffolk University professor Beverly D. Flaxington writes, “This culture values action, movement, success, and the quest of more, more, more, and more. If you aren’t moving and you aren’t conquering and you aren’t rushing, there must be something wrong with you. The faster someone…

Read more

Climbing Blind

On May 25, 2001, Erik Weihenmayer reached the summit of Mount Everest. A year later, he completed the Seven Summits, climbing the highest peak on each of the seven continents. By doing so, he accomplished what only 150 others have ever done. But with Erik Weihenmayer, there was one difference.  Erik Weihenmayer is completely blind. …

Read more

Rule #101

Last year, I wrote my tenth recovery book, Recovery Rules. It contains 100 truisms. They are pithy, easy-to-remember statements about recovery. If I could add a 101st rule, this would be it: What you tolerate today will dominate tomorrow. If I tolerate staring at attractive women, those fantasies will dominate my mind tomorrow. If I…

Read more

Worthwhile

“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (Ephesians 4:1). What is a life that is worthy? Albert Einstein answered, “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.” And Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “It’s enthusiasm for something that makes life…

Read more

You Gotta Let Go!

I’ve seen it hundreds of times. I did it myself. I got into recovery because of my wife’s discovery. But it wasn’t enough.  Patrick Carnes wrote, “The momentary willingness that comes after disclosure or discovery will not turn into long-term sobriety unless there is a recognition that past attempts to control don’t work. Unless there…

Read more

Tim Tebow

Timothy Richard Tebow described the Christian life well. The football icon said, “I’m not perfect. I’m never going to be. And that’s the great thing about living the Christian life and trying to live by faith, is you’re trying to get better every day. You’re trying to improve.”  In recovery, improvement is a great word.…

Read more

The Right Crowd

“So Jephthah fled from his brothers and settled in the land of Tob, where a gang of scoundrels gathered around him and followed him” (Judges 11:3). Aaron Rodgers, full-time football player (when he isn’t injured) and part-time philosopher, said, “Surround yourself with really good people. I think that’s an important thing, because the people you…

Read more

50 Years Ago

It happened 50 years ago today. It was like every other Sunday for my brother and me. We rode the church bus to College Park Baptist Church in southwest Houston. After the service, I asked our pastor, Dr. Cecil Sewell, if we could talk for a few minutes. He and his wife Sharon took me…

Read more

What God Requires

There are a lot of character traits that you should strive for. But God got specific with a few that rise above the rest. The prophet declared, “This is what the Lord requires: to act justly, to love, faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). Let’s focus on that last one –…

Read more

A Profound Prayer

I pray this every morning before my feet hit the ground. Perhaps you’ve heard of it. “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Lately, I have been focused on the second part of that prayer.…

Read more

Jesus Is Watching You

Before you act out again, ask yourself this question – What message will this send to others?  A man broke into a house late one night. The owner’s parrot said to him, “Jesus is watching you.” The burglar was undeterred. “What is Jesus going to do to stop me?” he asked the bird. As the…

Read more

How Will They Know?

Today, a total stranger initiated a conversation with me about Liberty University. Why did he do this? Because he saw that I was wearing my Liberty shirt, which I often do, as a proud alumnus. A few minutes later, I spoke to another stranger, this time because he was wearing a Houston Astros cap. Why?…

Read more

Matthew Perry

I admit that I should have offered this tribute three months ago.  In 1994, the 24-year-old actor began a ten-year run as a star of Friends, which paid him $1 million per episode and made him one of Hollywood’s most famous stars. But behind the scenes, addiction was ruining his life. At his lowest point,…

Read more

Not Even a Hint

“But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality” (Ephesians 5:3). Are you familiar with the Modesto Manifesto? That was the agreement that Billy Graham and his inner circle made with each other in 1949. Among other things, it included a commitment that none of them would ever be alone with…

Read more

Planned Neglect

Sometimes, it’s what you don’t do that makes the difference. Someone asked a concert violinist how she became so skilled. She gave a two-word answer: “Planned neglect.” She explained that she neglected everything that didn’t contribute to her goal, which was to be a master violinist.  Successful recovery requires planned neglect. In order to grow…

Read more

30 Days

Can you stay sober for the next 30 days? I remember when such a goal seemed crazy. It was on par with becoming an Olympic swimmer, NASA scientist, or watching a Hallmark movie without jumping off a tall building.  Impossible.  I love what Nelson Mandela said. “It always seems impossible until it is done.” The…

Read more

Homo Economicus

Harvard professor Arthur Brooks has spent years researching the seemingly inescapable association between achievement and satisfaction. Most of us have been duped into thinking that we are just one deal, one raise, or one dollar short of true happiness.  The pursuit of personal wealth, or homo economicus, consumes most of us. One study found that…

Read more

The Dried Up Brook

“So Elijah did as the Lord told him, and camped beside Kerith Brook, east of the Jordan. The ravens brought him bread and meat each morning and evening, and he drank from the brook. But after a while the brook dried up, for there was no rainfall anywhere in the land” (I Kings 17:5-7). Does…

Read more

Motorcycle Money

“From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another” (John 1:16). I read about a motorcyclist roaring down the coastal highway in the Philippines who didn’t realize that the zipper of his backpack had come open. The man was making a business transfer with a large amount of cash. The bills began…

Read more

The Mark Twain Diet

A month after my heart surgery last year, my cardiologist gave me the simple formula for living a long life. He said, “Eat what you don’t like.” Mark Twain took this a little further: “The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like, and do…

Read more

There’s Still Hope

When we began our ministry in 2017, we knew one word had to be in the title – hope. We talk a lot about hope here. But there is another word that is just as important. Still. There’s Hope and There’s Still Hope are two completely different things.  Here’s what we believe. There’s STILL hope,…

Read more

Sanctification that Matters

The Bible promises three things to every believer: “You were washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 6:11). Let’s talk about that middle one – sanctification. The process of sanctification simply means to become more like Christ. There are several ways we might try this. Many of us…

Read more

Depressing

I have some depressing news for you.  According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 6.7 percent of the adult population has dealt with depression. And data released by Dr. Paul Greenberg and his colleagues concludes that the number of Americans with Major Depression Disorder increased by 13 percent from 2010 to 2018, with 47…

Read more

Happy Birthday!

If you were born on January 16, happy birthday! You share your birthday with nearly 22 million other Earthlings. Here is a list of just a few of those 22 million people who were born on January 16. We celebrate birthdays because life matters. Your life matters. But you shouldn’t wait until your next birthday…

Read more

You Can Do This!

Most addicts make a commitment to quit their behavior, but they don’t stick to their plan. Why is this? I suggest several reasons. Any obstacle to your recovery is worthy of a wrecking ball. Making a commitment to recovery is the easy part. I know, because I made that commitment 100 times. And I quit…

Read more

Logic vs Emotions

Let’s talk about logic, emotions, and self-control. Dr. Jonathan Heidt has concluded, “Psychology tells us that the brain consistently tricks you into thinking your logic is in control, but generally, it is not. You are being driven by emotions and instinctual drives which your logical brain then rationalizes. This gives the appearance of the logical…

Read more

Samaria

“Jesus had to go through Samaria” (John 4:4). Let me explain why this matters.  The Jews and Samaritans disliked each other. It all went back to 722 B.C. when the Assyrians conquered Israel and took the northern ten tribes into captivity. They brought in Gentiles from other areas to settle in that same region. Eventually,…

Read more

Today

The average person will live about 30,000 days.  I’m not sure where I stand on that continuum, but I’m pretty sure I’m closer to the end than I am to the beginning. Will I live 30,000 days? A little less? A little more?  Who knows? But I do know this – I’m alive on this…

Read more

Two Houses

Two men of equal ability were given identical houses and assignments. One side of each house was filled with heavy rocks. The men were given one month to move the rocks from one side of the house to the other. The work was grueling, and after two weeks, the first man gave up. The other…

Read more

Healthy Fear

Perhaps fear has gotten a bad rap.  Christine Louise Hohlbaum, author of The Power of Slow, writes, “Fear is not always a bad thing. It can sometimes move us to greatness. Fear can be your friend in just the right doses, but too much of it can kill you.” Paul said it like this: “Look…

Read more

Tests

We will all be tested. Following the 9/11 attack, President George W. Bush said, “The resolve of our great nation is being tested. But make no mistake, we will show the world that we will pass the test.” In recovery, testing is a part of the process. Jesus was tested, but he used that as…

Read more

Box of Chocolates

Life is unpredictable. Don’t take my word for it; Solomon said, “At best, life is unpredictable” (Ecclesiastes 9:7). The great philosopher Forrest Gump said it in a way we can all understand. “My mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”      – Forrest Gump, 1994 You…

Read more

Relapse Rate

I hate it when someone drops out of one of my Freedom Groups. My first reaction is, “What did I do wrong?” Over the three years I have been leading groups, we have grown from five groups to nine, and from 50 men to 130. But I always fret over the one who slips away.…

Read more

Switching Teams

Andrew Whitworth switched teams. A four-time NFL All-Pro, the six-foot-seven lineman left the Cincinnati Bengals for the Los Angeles Rams. And in 2022, he accomplished a rare feat, as a member of the Super Bowl champions. What made this so special was that the team he beat was – the Cincinnati Bengals. If you are…

Read more

Scholarly Advice

In 2022, three noted psychologists produced an extensive editorial: Human Connection as a Treatment for Addiction. Their research included broad, diverse studies. They used a bio-psycho-socio-spiritual model of health and illness, in order to tap into multiple perspectives. This was their summary conclusion: “In summary, the results of our research topic of articles point to…

Read more

Psalm 51

Psalm 51 provides the gold standard for confessional prayer. “According to the greatness of your compassion, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin” (Psalm 51:1-2).  First, David asks God to “blot out my transgressions.” He is asking God to scrape off the lies and deceit in…

Read more

Enough

Saving Private Ryan may be the greatest war movie ever produced. The film traces a mission to bring Private James Ryan home after his three brothers had all been killed in battle. Under the command of Captain Miller, a small group of soldiers went through hell to rescue Private Ryan. Most of the others, including…

Read more

Wrong Way Riegels

In the 1929 Rose Bowl, All-American center Roy Riegels picked up a fumble and ran 30 yards – in the wrong direction. The play contributed to an 8-7 loss by California to Georgia Tech. Looking back, Riegels described the play: “I was running toward the sidelines when I picked up the ball. I started to…

Read more

2024 Goals

Proverbs 16:9 “We plan the way we want to live, but only God makes us able to live it.” There are three ways in which you need to pursue your goals for the new year. 1. You need God’s Spirit to empower you. “You will not succeed by your own strength, or by your own…

Read more

2024

Another year has passed. The new year is just hours away.  In God Is Visible Every Day, Steven M. Hitchcock offers great advice. “In this new year, be grateful that God has given you victory over many things over the past year.” The prophet agreed. “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past”…

Read more

The “F” Word

In order to stay sober, you need to master the “F” word. Forgiveness. Dr. Michael Bernard Beckwith, trainer of Mindvalley’s Life Vission Mastery Quest, writes, “All forgiveness is self-forgiveness because you’re unbinding yourself from a perception that causes harm to yourself.” Beckwith explains that forgiveness moves you away from the victim consciousness – a state…

Read more

Anymore

The crazy dude in Mark 5 is the prototype for Step 1. His life was unmanageable, and he was powerless to do anything about it. To be specific, “This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain” (Mark 5:4). Did you catch that word, anymore? That…

Read more

Second Chances

I am the product of the second chance. You are, too. Coach Lane Kiffin said, “When God gives you a second chance, it’s not something you take for granted.” Harrison Ford said, “We all have big changes in our lives that are more or less a second chance.” Pete Rose said, “If somebody is gracious…

Read more

The Grandmaster

I used to be an avid chess player. I still have in my office, my Dad’s old chess set that he learned to play on 90 years ago. In my greatest athletic achievement, I won my high school chess championship with a record of 50 wins, and 0 losses. Then I played the champions from…

Read more

Not Expected

We all remember the innkeeper in Bethlehem who told Mary and Joseph that there was no room for them in the inn. The innkeeper has earned a bad reputation because of this, but I wonder if this nameless figure in history may be symbolic of some of us. There was no room in the inn…

Read more

The Manger

I heard about a guy who discovered an original copy of the Declaration of Independence while going through some things that had been stored, and then passed down through generations. Eventually, this priceless document fell into his lap. He wasn’t looking for it but found it anyway. The world wasn’t looking for a Savior. At…

Read more

I’m a Dreamer

John tapped into the secret to a pure life. “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). John understood the magic of connection, or “fellowship with one another,” because…

Read more

Somebody Likes Me

Christmas programs have given us nearly unlimited quotes of inspiration. And then there are other quotes that remind us of life as it really is for so many. Like this, from A Charlie Brown Christmas: “Rats. Nobody sent me a Christmas card today. I almost wish there wasn’t a holiday season. I know nobody likes…

Read more

Step 1

It is the only Step you have to work perfectly. Say it with me: “We admitted that our lives had become unmanageable, and we were powerless to do anything about it.” This Step sets the table for the next eleven. Until you work Step 1, you can’t pass “GO” and you can’t collect $200 (an…

Read more

Why You Act Out

Henri Nouwen wrote, “Our society is not a community radiant with the love of Christ, but a dangerous network of domination and manipulation in which we can easily get entangled and lose our soul.” Translation – We live in a fallen world. The Bible is like this: “God gave them up to dishonorable passions” (Romans…

Read more

Parties

I love a good party. I’ve been to a few spirited celebrations, but nothing like the one they threw in Great Britain over 20 years ago.  In June, 2002, Queen Elizabeth II celebrated 50 years as monarch of Great Britain. A Golden Jubilee Festival was held in her honor, as London’s ceremonial mall was filled…

Read more

Grab On

We can find great lessons for recovery from history. For example, let’s talk World War II. During the attack on Pearl Harbor, a serviceman serving on a maintenance ship was able to save six sailors trapped on the burning USS Arizona by tossing them a rope. God has done the same thing for each of…

Read more

Undivided Heart

There is no power like the power of focus. We need it in our relationships, spiritual development, at work, and in recovery.  For example, psychologist Traci Stein suggests a unique technique to maintain focus at work. It’s called the “Pomodoro Technique,” which is based on working for 25 minutes, and then taking a five-minute break,…

Read more

Buzz Knows

Whoever told you that recovery would be easy was messing with you. Buzz Aldrin, space explorer, Christ-follower, and recovering alcoholic, spoke of his personal sobriety: “It’s been one of the greatest challenges that ever came along in my life; it was one of the most difficult things to do.” But “hard” doesn’t mean “bad.” The…

Read more

Ten-Year Study

What matters the most in long-term recovery?  A team of six addiction experts, led by Dr. Maria Pagano, sought answers. They conducted a ten-year study on the various components of long-term recovery that reaped the greatest results. Overwhelmingly, their research concluded that two things were of the utmost importance. Let’s focus on the second principle…

Read more

Be Nice

Stanford professor Robert Sapolsky reports on a study conducted across cultures. It found that, universally, men tend to prefer to marry women younger than themselves, while women prefer men older than themselves. There were several other interesting findings. But the most profound conclusion was that across cultures, men and women are looking for one thing…

Read more

Mirror

The word for today is . . . mirror. Carl Jung said, “Whoever looks into the mirror will see first of all his own face. The mirror does not flatter; it faithfully shows whatever looks into it, namely, the face we never show to the world because we cover it with the persona, the mask…

Read more

Money Secrets

Married couples often keep financial secrets from their spouse. According to a study in 2022, financial secrets adversely affect 75 percent of all marriages. A poll by CreditCards.com found the following: Secrets are never a good thing within a marriage. And eventually, the secrets always come out. “For nothing will be hidden that will not…

Read more

Just a Flesh Wound

“It’s just a flesh wound.”      – Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) Those were the words from the Black Knight (John Cleese) to King Arthur (Graham Chapman), after losing both arms in the heat of combat.  The Black Knight did what we all tend to do. He minimized his condition. What Solomon said still…

Read more

U.S. Open

In the final round of the 1934 U.S. Open, Bobby Cruickshank appeared to be on his way to winning his first major tournament on the PGA tour. He had the lead on the 11th hole when a wayward shot miraculously bounced off a rock and onto the green. Overjoyed, Cruickshank threw his club into the…

Read more

Blameless

We all know that God expects us to be holy. That means to be set apart, living lives of integrity and character. But did you know God actually expects more than holy lives? Paul told the church, “He chose us to be holy and blameless” (Ephesians 1:4). Paul’s message was that we are to not…

Read more

Pain

Pain. It’s a part of life. It’s what C.S. Lewis called “God’s unwanted gift.” We’ve all been there. Everyone I know has experienced their fair share of pain. The key is how we respond to our pain. Dr. Robert Puff, host of the Happiness Podcast, suggests three steps to processing our pain. It is important…

Read more

Selfishness

My good friend, Dr. Roger Patterson, pastor of Houston’s West University Baptist Church, recently preached an amazing sermon on marriage. Roger addressed the subject of selfishness. He said selfishness manifests itself in marriage in four ways: Few things are more damaging to a marriage than selfishness. And that’s a problem for addicts because selfishness drives…

Read more

Teddy

A writer named David Redding wrote about growing up on a farm in Scotland. As a young boy, he was given a beautiful black puppy he named Teddy. Redding and Teddy were inseparable. When Redding had to go off to war, he was unable to return to his farm for more than two years. But…

Read more

Juneteenth

Juneteenth is a celebration that began on June 19, 1865. Union general Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas, to announce the end of slavery. His message was met with shock and celebration. What the people didn’t realize was that slavery had been legally banned two and a half years earlier, on January 1, 1863. The…

Read more

Humble Pie

Recovery is a journey with no end, yet some people begin to feel that they are cured and don’t have to worry about triggers anymore. It is important to develop a healthy level of self-confidence, but humility is necessary, too. If someone forgets that addiction is a chronic condition, they may be tempted to have…

Read more

Step 8

“Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.”      – Step 8 “Every A.A. has found that he can make little headway until he first makes an accurate and unsparing survey of the human wreckage he has left in his wake.”      – Twelve Steps and Twelve…

Read more

Hard Work

All successful recovery includes two words – hard work. Sorry, I wish it wasn’t so. I wish there was a softer, easier way, but there’s not. To stay sober, you need to master things like surrender, going to meetings, and working the Steps. But you also need this: Hard work. Derek Jeter said, “There may…

Read more

Elvis

No one ever had a more successful career as a singer and entertainer than Elvis Presley. In what may be his most memorable song, he gave a really good example of how a man should express his love for his wife. “Love me tender, love me sweet, Never let me go. You have made my…

Read more

The Learning Curve

German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus (1850-1909) is credited for inventing the learning curve. He was also the first psychologist to conduct extensive work on memory studies. Among his findings: we need to hear something five times in order to remember it. Another study found that the average high school student forgets 95 percent of what he…

Read more

Buckets

An analogy that is often used to describe the process of rebuilding trust is that of the empty bucket. We say to the addict, “The reason your wife doesn’t trust you is that your bucket is empty. You need to refill your bucket.” We refill the bucket by going to meetings, doing therapy, and remaining…

Read more

Godzilla

Godzilla’s career as a prizefighter began with his first movie, appropriately called Godzilla, in 1954. He went on to star in 38 movies, taking on all monsters who wanted a piece of him. His career included 55 fights, with 45 wins, four draws, and six losses. One of the losses came to a robot, so…

Read more

Thanksgiving Today

In 1864, President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation declaring Thanksgiving as a day on which citizens should give thanks and praise to God and humble themselves and pray fervently for the return of the blessings of peace, union, and harmony. As we celebrate Thanksgiving in America today, I remind you of God’s instructions for the…

Read more

The Law

It is important that we be aware of our weak spots. The Bible says, “Through the law we became conscious of our sin” (Romans 3:20). Substitute the word addiction for sin. Here are four reasons you need to be conscious of your addiction: John Calvin said, “There is no light in the law without Christ.”…

Read more

Marching Off Your Map

Alexander the Great was one of the greatest conquerors the world has ever known. After he had achieved his conquest of Persia, he embarked on an eastward journey that led him beyond the familiar territories. As author Halford Luccock put it, the general “marched off his maps.” I suppose that when your name ends with…

Read more

Itzhak Perlman

At the age of four, Itzhak Perlman was struck by polio, rendering his legs useless. However, he compensated for this loss by dedicating himself to his violin. In the following years, Perlman enchanted countless audiences with his music. While he lost the use of his legs, his music bestowed upon him a unique form of…

Read more

A Different Drumbeat

Sometimes, you need to listen to the advice of others, figure out what makes sense, and then do something else. Good advice is not always the best advice. Sometimes, God leads us to do things that others don’t understand. That’s why we need the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised, “The Holy Spirit will teach you all…

Read more

The Box

Kevin went down on one knee as he handed a beautiful, small box to his girlfriend, Rachel. Then he popped the question: “Will you marry me?” Rachel responded, “Of course I’ll marry you!” Then she opened the box, to find a diamond engagement ring, for which Kevin had spend $20,000. Then, holding up the box…

Read more

Irrevocable

Forgiveness and second chances are hallmarks of the Christian faith. A well-known secular humanist gave an amazing endorsement of our faith. “What I envy most about you Christians is your forgiveness. I have nobody to forgive me.” We all say we believe in God’s forgiveness, but that doesn’t always translate into our daily lives. Let…

Read more

Flying Stand-by

Have you ever flown stand-by? When you watch the passengers hanging around the desk in front of the terminal, you can always tell the ones who are flying stand-by. Everyone else has a secure ticket. They are sitting comfortably in a chair, reading magazines and working on their laptops, just waiting for their number to…

Read more

Harlem Miracle

Eugene Land was a self-made millionaire who was asked to speak to a class of 59 sixth graders at a school in Harlem. Based on historical trends, ten percent of those students would never graduate from high school. That would be six students. Land’s message to the students was simple. “If you stay in school…

Read more

Christmas Bike

When I was about seven years old, I woke up one Christmas morning to find the bicycle of my dreams under the Christmas tree. I was shocked, because I was under the impression that such gifts were reserved for boys and girls who had been especially good that year, which I had not been.  I…

Read more

When You Wash Your Face

Martin Luther said, “When you wash your face, remember your baptism.” Translation: Never forget from whence you came. Remember your past and learn from it. We should take time to reflect on what got us into recovery and cherish the lessons we have learned along the journey. This will keep us on track and focused.…

Read more

Recovery Fruit

My wife works with spouses who are married to sex addicts, leading them through their own recovery programs. Regarding their relationships with their addict husbands, Beth often tells them, “Believe their behaviors, not their words.” Jesus said it like this: “A tree is recognized by its fruit” (Matthew 12:33). When a person works a serious…

Read more

Move Forward into the Past

In 1956, Billy Graham held a crusade in London that resulted in thousands of people coming to Christ. The London Times, seeking to discredit the tremendous response and success of the revival, published this headline: “Billy Graham Has Sent England Back to the 1800s.”  When asked what he thought of the headline, Graham responded, “Well,…

Read more

Do It for Yourself

No one disputes God’s directive to do the right thing. The prophet was clear when he said, “Maintain justice and do what is right” (Isaiah 56:1). That leads to an obvious question. Why should we do the right thing? Psychologist Jordan Scotti has an answer: “There is psychological research that suggests that engaging in prosocial…

Read more

A Mother’s Kiss

Have you ever felt as if your shame, your sins, and your shortcomings have taken you beyond the grasp of God’s grace? I’ve been there. We all have.  So let the words of Jesus sink in. Other than blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, Jesus said, “Every kind of sin can be forgiven” (Matthew 12:31). That…

Read more

The Purity Movement

Purity matters – a lot. The psalmists spoke to this when he answered his own question. “How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word” (Psalm 119:9). Any ministry that is committed to leading men and women to freedom from unwanted sexual behaviors will have a lot…

Read more

Daily

I have a theory. When you put recovery ahead of God, you find neither. But when you put God ahead of recovery, you find both. That is because all recovery is spiritual recovery.  Henry Ward Beecher said it well: “Heaven will be inherited by every man who has heaven in his soul.” Paul said it…

Read more

A House Divided

Jesus quoted from Lincoln’s 1858 speech when he said, “A house divided cannot stand” (Matthew 12:25). Nothing matters more than unity. That is why Jesus prayed, in what really was the Lord’s Prayer (a prayer he prayed himself, not a model prayer for us), “Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the…

Read more

Your Mind

Your biggest sex organ is your brain. That is why nothing is more important to your recovery than what you do with your thought life. The Bible says, “Serve him with a willing mind” (1 Chronicles 28:9). Here are six ways to serve God with a willing mind: Vincent Van Gogh said, “I put my…

Read more

Green Apples

I know what it is to feel “less than.” When you wear Coke bottles for glasses at the age of eight, and when you stutter your way through school, you can’t help but feel unimpressive. That’s why I love the words of Alice Chapin: “Green apples are apples too.” The God who is not limited…

Read more

Ducks

I have the same routine every morning. I step outside on my lanai, and a zillion ducks come rushing up from the pond out back, like a battalion of soldiers storming the beach at Normandy. They know what’s coming, because I’ve been doing the same thing, very consistently, for five years. I reach into my…

Read more

To the End

There is not enough space to write all the supremely wonderful things Jesus did during the three years of his public ministry. But if we could identify the top ten statements of what Jesus did, this one would rise to the top: “He loved them to the end” (John 13:1). Jesus loved his disciples through…

Read more

Titles and Towels

The Holy Spirit exhausted the alphabet in describing Jesus. He was the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. He is the Christ and the Creator, the Daystar of David’s seed. He’s the Everlasting God, Friend of friends, and God of grace. He’s the Helper to the helpless and the Incarnate One, the Just…

Read more

Popeye

Do you remember Popeye the Sailor Man? He was a popular comic book hero who later had his own TV show. I watched it every Saturday morning as a kid. Popeye had tremendous forearms, and always had a pipe in his mouth. He faced his archrival, Bluto, at every turn. Bluto had every advantage over…

Read more

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant was one of the greatest basketball players of all time. Speaking at the ESPYS, he revealed the secret to his success: “Rest at the end, not in the middle.” In recovery, too many of us rest in the middle. We take a break from groups and other recovery work when we aren’t done…

Read more

A.G. Spalding

Before A.G. Spalding was a sporting goods magnate, he was a great baseball player. He was arguably the first great pitcher, winning a remarkable 252 games over a seven-year career, including 52 wins in one season. But it was one move that by which Spalding made his lasting mark. A.G. Spalding was the first baseball…

Read more

Where the Time Goes

Do you ever ask yourself, “Where did the time go?” We have answers. Over the course of our lives, on average, we spend twenty-six years sleeping and another seven years trying to sleep. We spend thirteen years at work, eight years watching TV, four years eating, three years on social media, three years on vacation,…

Read more

A Hawk and a Snake

Two months ago, a Texas woman was attacked by a snake and a hawk at the same time. Peggy Jones, from Silsbee, was mowing her yard when a snake fell from the sky and wrapped itself around her leg. Then the hawk, which has presumably dropped the snake from above, swooped down and began pecking…

Read more

The Master Has Failed

You’ll never be a winner until you risk being a loser. Stephen McCranie said, “The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried.”  I love the way gymnast gold medalist Simone Biles said it: “I’d rather regret the risks that didn’t work out than the chances I didn’t take at all.” Taking…

Read more

Jimi Hendrix

Music legend Jimi Hendrix only lived for 27 years. The iconic American songwriter and singer is still regarded as one of the most influential electric guitarists in the history of popular music, though his mainstream career spanned only four years. He is recognized by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as “arguably the greatest…

Read more

Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong was the unquestioned king of cycling, with an unequaled seven Tour de France titles. But it all came unraveled on this date in history. On October 22, 2012, Armstrong was stripped of his titles and banned from the sport he loved. The lifetime ban followed a report from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, that…

Read more

Morning Is Coming

One night, a young boy was frightened by a powerful thunderstorm outside his house. The next morning, at breakfast, he asked his father, “Where was God last night in the middle of the storm?” His father answered, “God was busy making morning.” Are you walking through a storm right now? Are you surrounded by darkness?…

Read more

Carry the Cupcakes

There was a fourth-grade student named Tommy, whose mother gave him a box of cupcakes to take to his classmates at school. Unfortunately, Tommy had injured his leg and was on crutches. His mother asked Tommy’s older brother, a sixth grader, to carry the cupcakes for Tommy. The brother said, “I’d rather not.” His mother…

Read more

Independence

America’s independence from Great Britain was essentially secured 242 years ago today. On October 19, 1781, Britain’s Lord Cornwallis surrendered to American General George Washington at Yorktown, Virginia. The Revolutionary War would soon come to an end. Did you notice that date – 1781? That is five years after the birth of the United States…

Read more

21,000 Acres

There are more varieties of trees in North Carolina than in any other state in America. During three months of fall, over five million people pump a billion dollars of income into the state as they come to experience the kaleidoscope of color in the trees.  And then it happened. On August 27, 2011, Hurricane…

Read more

Just One Step

“If God would do _____, I would do ______.”  I hear that a lot. We barter with God. “If he would bring me blessings, I would trust him more.” “If he would reduce my urges to act out, I’d stay sober.” That’s all backwards. The fact is, if you will stay sober, you will find…

Read more

Draw, Antonio!

After Michelangelo died, a piece of paper was found in his studio, on which the old master had scribbled a note to his apprentice. “Draw, Antonio. Draw, Antonio. Draw, and do not waste time.” The great apostle seems to agree with that sentiment. Paul wrote, “Do not waste your time on useless work” (Ephesians 5:11). …

Read more

Near Sodom

It is my favorite Old Testament passage on addiction. When the families of Abraham and Lot had become too numerous for them all to stay together, Abraham gave Lot the first shot at finding a new place where his people could settle. Then we read this troubling verse: “Lot lived among the cities of the…

Read more

Don’t Serve God!

I’m going to say something I don’t think I ever said as a pastor. Quit serving God and start seeking God! If we were honest, most of us would define ourselves as human doings, rather than human beings. The first thing we ask a new friend is, “What do you do?” We measure our worth…

Read more

Our Ultimate Opponent

It is your ultimate opponent – apathy.  You are probably familiar with Edmund Burke’s famous line: “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph in the world is that good men do nothing.” I like the way that John Stott said it: “Apathy is the acceptance of the unacceptable.”  Nothing turns the stomach of God…

Read more

When in Rome

Before Augustine traveled from Milan to Rome, he shared a problem with Ambrose. As a young priest, Augustine wanted to know what he should do about celebrating the Sabbath. Rome celebrated the Lord’s Day on Sunday, while Milan celebrated on Saturday. The discrepancy confused Augustine and caused him to take up the matter with Ambrose.…

Read more

Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz remains one of the most popular movies of all time. In the film, we find Dorothy skipping down the yellow brick road to see the great and powerful Oz and ask him to help her get home to Kansas. Ultimately, we discover the Wizard of Oz is a phony, when Dorothy’s…

Read more

Malcolm Gladwell

I love history and I love great success stories. And this is what I know – every great success story in history happened for one reason.  Someone refused to give up. Hard work and daily practice reap benefits that cannot be found any other way. Malcolm Gladwell estimated that mastery in any field requires a…

Read more

See Jesus

There was an old country church that had a picture of Jesus hanging on the wall behind the pulpit. Worshipers could see the picture above the pastor’s head when he preached on Sundays. But one week, the pastor was out of town, and the man who filled in was quite a bit taller than he…

Read more

Archimedes

Archimedes was a mathematician and physicist in the 3rd century, B.C. He famously said, “Give me a place on which to stand and a lever long enough and I will move the world.” From the example of Archimedes we find two qualities that are indispensable for success in any endeavor: Our concern here is recovery…

Read more

Walked with Him No More

“As a result of this many of his disciples withdrew, and were not walking with him anymore” (John 6:66). That is one of the saddest verses in the Bible. Men who qualified as “disciples” of our Lord walked away from their commitments and faith. Unfortunately, I see it all the time. I have been in…

Read more

500 Needs

In 1900, a survey was conducted. Americans were asked to list their basic needs. The average response consisted of 72 things. In 1950, this survey was repeated. This time, on average, Americans said they needed over 500 things. I can’t imagine how many things would be added to that list today. Here are ten, to…

Read more

How God Heals

God heals. As much as he healed in biblical times, God heals. The lame, the blind, and the addicted. God heals them all. The question is not whether God heals, but how God heals. Sometimes, God heals immediately. “Jesus said, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ So he stretched it out and it was completely restored” (Matthew…

Read more

Cry!

Recovery can be an emotional journey at times. I cried when I was discovered. I cried when I attended my first SAA meeting. I cried in front of my therapist. I cried throughout my disclosure. I cried when I got my 30-day chip. I cried when I got my one-year chip. I cry – a…

Read more

Ought To vs Want To

If church attendance only counted those who really want to be there, I suspect attendance wouldn’t be too good on most Sundays. When I was a pastor, I remember one guy who literally told me, “Preacher, just so ya know, I don’t wanna be here!” Contrast that with the plea of the psalmist, who asked,…

Read more

Climbers and Sailors

Life was never intended to be lived alone. Every great task calls for teamwork, community, and collaboration. We are simply wired for connection. Consider these two examples from history. In 1933, British explorer Frank Smythe attempted to climb Mt. Everest alone. He became so convinced that someone else was with him on the climb that…

Read more

Niagara Bridge

Homan Walsh contributed to the construction of the first suspension bridge over the Niagara River, when he was just a young boy. From the Canadian side, he flew his kite across to the American side where the kite string was fastened to a tree on the shore. Then they took a little cord and they…

Read more

Talk to Yourself

Do you talk to yourself? There’s nothing wrong with that, but I’d be alarmed if you start hearing responses. I heard about a study that found that 96 percent of us talk to ourselves. Talking to yourself is actually biblical. In the 42nd Psalm, the Sons of Korah talked to themselves. They asked themselves the…

Read more

Positive Living

One of the most difficult lessons for me to learn in recovery was that nothing I had ever done caught God off guard. Nor did my addictive behaviors stunt God’s ability to bless me and use me going forward. I had to learn that nothing can really disqualify a person who was never qualified in…

Read more

The Measure We Gave

There is a common saying you hear in recovery groups. “The measure we gave was the measure we got back.” And it’s true. One of the best things you can do to improve your recovery is to help someone else improve theirs. A recent study from Columbia University confirms the power of helping others. Over…

Read more

Battle Plan

Recovery is less about how we respond in the moment and more about how we prepare for the moment. If you wait until the trigger hits to figure out how to respond, you will eventually fail. Sure, there are some situations that sneak up on us. But virtually every test you face will be something…

Read more

Poor Blocking

“We didn’t tackle well today, but we made up for it by not blocking.”      – John McKay        Former Head Coach, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Success starts by doing one thing well. Another former coach gives us good insight into this principle. Texas A&M basketball coach Shelby Metcalf had to suspend a player from his team due…

Read more

When Prayer Is Hard

There are a lot of misunderstood passages in the Bible. One of those is Luke 11:1. Jesus gave us what we call The Lord’s Prayer in response to the disciples’ inquiry. So what was it that they asked the Master? Their request was not that Jesus would teach them how to pray. They said, “Lord,…

Read more

J.C. Penny

J.C. Penny was asked the key to his success. His answer was succinct. “Adversity and Jesus Christ.” Adversity is a part of life. You don’t get to decide whether or not you will have tough times. But you do get to decide how you will respond in those times.  We have this amazing promise: “We…

Read more

“Be Mine”

In 1847, Oliver Chase invented a machine to make throat lozenges, which led to the beginning of America’s candy industry. With his machine and a tweak to the formula, Chase was able to shape small candy wafers into hearts and imprint them with words. Those little “candy love letters” have been a sweet tradition of…

Read more

#1 Reason People Fail

There are a lot of reasons people fail to reach their goals. In recovery, this is especially true. Many factors play into relapse. But there is one mistake, one shortcoming, that leads to failure more than anything else.  According to business expert and prolific author Harvey Mackay, the #1 reason people fail is that they…

Read more

Gold Watch

Dream big dreams. Shoot for the stars. Aim high, don’t settle, and never look back. Famous architect Daniel Burnham was right: “Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans, aim high in hope and work. Remember that our sons and grandsons…

Read more

Lonely Still

Loneliness is one of the five basic triggers for addiction. It is a threat to our sanity, sobriety, and serenity. One study found that loneliness is as bad for our health as smoking 15 cigarettes per day. Don’t apologize for periods of loneliness. We’ve all been there. King David, the “man after God’s own heart,”…

Read more

Time

God has given us all the same thing every year – 12 months; 365 days; 8,760 hours; 525,600 minutes; 31,536,000 seconds. It’s what we do with that time that counts. J.R.R. Tolkien said, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” Laura Meyer, clinical therapist, writes, “I…

Read more

Mighty Warrior

There was a period in the history of Israel when God raised up a series of judges who provided leadership and guidance for his children. One of those judges was named Gideon.  You may recall that early in the story of Gideon, he was found hiding from the Midianites to avoid having his crops seized…

Read more

Troubles

“Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen. Nobody knows my sorrow. Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen. Glory, Hallelujah.”      – Louis Armstrong We have all known trouble. Some of our troubles are self-afflicted (like looking at porn). Others are the product of living in a fallen world. The Bible is clear. “The righteous person may have…

Read more

Advice from a Dog

“I don’t have time to worry about who doesn’t like me. I’m too busy loving the people who love me.”      – Snoopy Don’t worry about the people who are no longer in your corner. When you come clean with your addiction, some of your family members and friends will sever all ties with you. I…

Read more

Taste It

Have you ever had someone in recovery let you down? I sure have! Don’t let the mistakes of a sponsor, counselor, or group member throw you off. There are sinners and hypocrites all over the place – even in recovery groups. But a bad second-hand experience should never convince you recovery is not possible.  Let…

Read more

A Record Dog

A dog recently made the Guinness Book of World Records for doing something no other dog has ever done. Bobi, a purebred Rafeiro do Alentejo, made history by having a birthday. Not just any birthday. Bobi is the world’s oldest dog, at age 31. If you want to bring Bobi a gift, you’ll have to…

Read more

A Silent God

King David, a man after God’s own heart, once lamented, “Lord, do not be silent. Do not be far from me” (Psalm 35:22). What do you do when God is silent? I suggest seven things. Sometimes, God goes silent. But that doesn’t mean he’s not still speaking. He speaks every day, through every sunrise and…

Read more

Learn from Leonardo

Do you tend to be too hard on yourself? Meet the President of the “Too Hard on Myself” Club. Perhaps you’ve heard of him.  Leonardo da Vinci. Noted as perhaps the most accomplished artist in history, da Vinci is credited with the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper, two of the most revered paintings ever.…

Read more

The Unrequired

NBA coach Kevin Eastman has been around dozens of great basketball players, up close. He was asked what made the difference between really good players and exceptional players. “Exceptional players,” said Coach Eastman, “do the things that are unrequired.” He explained that most players live for the praise of their teammates and coaches. They practice…

Read more

Dollhouse

A little girl climbed into her daddy’s lap and asked him to build her a dollhouse. Much to her delight, he promised to do so. Then he left town for an extended business trip. When he returned, he entered his daughter’s room, to find all of her dolls and doll furniture packed in boxes. When…

Read more

Third Rate Cause

On a visit to America, former Russian Premier Nikita Khrushchev was taken to a pro football game. Following the game, he was asked what he thought of American football. Khrushchev replied, “Never have I seen such first-class passion and energy wasted on a third-class cause.” Now, I don’t make it a habit of quoting Russian…

Read more

Apples

There’s a lot of incorrect thinking about . . . apples. For example, we often hear, “It’s as American as apple pie.” The problem with that is that the apple pie was created in England. And apples are native to Asia.  We hear that Adam and Eve ate an apple in the Garden. Of course,…

Read more

Royal Flush

The chance of drawing a royal flush is one in 649,740. That’s about the same odds as finding sexual sobriety on your own. And the odds of drawing any straight flush are one in 72,192. That’s about the same odds as keeping sexual sobriety on your own. And if you don’t know what a royal…

Read more

Prayer and Recovery

There is a close relationship between prayer and recovery. Dr. Rob Whitley, author and psychologist, writes, “New research indicates that regular prayer can have many mental health benefits.” A study completed by Harvard professor Tyler VanderWeele found that young adults who prayed daily tended to have fewer depressive symptoms, and higher levels of satisfaction and…

Read more

19 Years

According to the Cleveland Clinic, sexual addiction begins, on average, at age 18. But the typical addict doesn’t reach out for help until age 37. So they live in their addiction for 19 years before they seek help.  And that’s a shame. There are two problems with waiting 19 years to get help. The Bible…

Read more

Just One Step

“I have a mustard seed, and I know how to use it!”      – God Mustard seeds aren’t that impressive. They are just 0.1 inches in diameter. But mustard trees can reach heights of 30 feet, with branches 20 feet long. You know the verse: “If you have the faith the size of a mustard seed,…

Read more

Edison Needed Help

Let me shed some light on a fake understanding of history. Thomas Edison did not invent the light bulb. At least, not on his own. In a book by Ernest Freeberg, we learn that the original light bulb reflected the work of many inventors, rather than Edison’s genius alone. The research and development culminated with…

Read more

Shell

In 1897, the Shell Transport and Trading Company was launched. Shell began selling gas out of its first gas station, in California, in 1915. Eventually, Shell built eight gas stations that all looked like giant shells. Today, just one such station remains, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.  From her humble beginnings, Shell now has its headquarters…

Read more

Roller Coasters

In the 1880s, hosiery businessman LaMarcus Thompson was greatly troubled by the hedonistic places like saloons and brothels that had become so prominent for too many Americans. So he set out to straighten up one of the most immoral places he could think of – Coney Island in New York. There, he built America’s first…

Read more

Thorny Prayers

I know a lot of people who teach that if we just love God and have enough faith, we will never have to suffer. Try telling that to the apostle Paul.  This was his story. “Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given…

Read more

Telescopes

When I was about 15, Dad bought us a telescope. My brother and I looked at the moon and other celestial objects for hours. But then boredom set in, so we turned the telescope around and looked through it the other way. Instead of objects looking bigger and closer, they appeared smaller and further away.…

Read more

Titanic

Did you see the movie, Titanic (1997)? You may remember that iconic scene when young Jack, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, stands at the bow of the ship, spreads out his arms, and shouts, “I’m the king of the world!” Most of us would never be so brash as to say that, but when we choose…

Read more

Plan B

There’s Still Hope was never God’s Plan A. There. I said it. What does that mean? I’m glad you asked. The thing is, God’s Plan A was for me to get into recovery 30 years sooner. If I had done that, I would have never lost my pastoral ministry. And we would have never launched…

Read more

Presidential Humor

I don’t know if national leaders outside the United States provide much comedic material, but I am confident America’s leaders – past and present – stand at the forefront of such things. Here are just a few funny lines from some of our leaders. (Note – presidential humor is a bipartisan phenomenon.) The need for…

Read more

The Pool

In order to get to the deep end of the pool, you first go through the shallow end. In recovery, the shallow end is lust and fantasy; the deep end is porn and masturbation. The key to staying out of the deep end is to stay out of the pool altogether. James identified this progression…

Read more

No Place Like Home

“Mid pleasures and palaces Though oft I may roam, Be it ever so humble, There’s no place like home.”      – John Howard Payne God created two great institutions throughout history – the family and the church. It all starts with the family. What happens in the home is everything. Indeed, “there’s no place like home.”…

Read more

A Strange Request

You’ve probably read the same surveys I’ve read. Famous people of all stripes are often asked, “If you could spend time with one person from history, who would it be?” The most common response is always the same: Jesus. By a wide margin, people say they wish they could spend time with Jesus, in the…

Read more

All Other Nations

Have you ever read this damning verse about Israel? “Judah has become like all the other nations” (Ezekiel 25:8). That means that God’s children took on the same character, made the same choices, and adapted the same values as everyone else. And that was a problem. Writing for Harvard Business Review, Patrick M. Lencioni says…

Read more

A New Approach

Not every recovery tool will yield the same results. I came across this little verse the other day. It speaks directly to this issue. “You do not know which will succeed – this or that – or whether both will do equally well” (Ecclesiastes 11:6). The solution is to try multiple strategies that will bring…

Read more

Make Your Bed

A few weeks ago, I asked each of the 96 men who attended that week’s Freedom Groups to name a daily routine that helped with their recovery. One man said what no one else was thinking. “I floss.” Really? What does flossing one’s teeth have to do with recovery? This man explained, referring to a…

Read more

Raise the Bar

Recently, during one of my Freedom Group sessions, a participant said something that has really stuck with me. It was truly profound:  “As we grow in our recovery, our standard of sobriety gets higher.” Let that sink in. As we become stronger in our recovery work and take new ground, something else happens. What we…

Read more

Beatles Lesson

“Help, I need somebody. Not just anybody.”      – The Beatles, 1965 We all need help. And we all need somebody. But we also need to be the somebody whom somebody else needs. Ralph Waldo Emerson said it well: “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable,…

Read more

Elementary

“Elementary, my dear Watson.”      – The Return of Sherlock Holmes, 1929 Elementary is not a bad thing. Every success story has a small beginning. Every athlete, astronaut, doctor, engineer, and Recovery Minute writer had to start someplace. Every scholar graduated from elementary school well before he earned advanced degrees.  Recovery works the same way. Start…

Read more

Masks

In early dramas, a single actor would often play multiple parts, so he would have to put on a different mask to represent each role that he played. Many of us do the same thing. We wear one mask for our friends, another for our family, and one at church. We even wear a mask…

Read more

A New Motor

Sobriety is not your goal. At least, it shouldn’t be. Your goal should not be abstinence – from unwanted sexual behavior or any other sin. So what is the goal? In a word, transformation. We are commanded to “be transformed” (Romans 12:2). We must be “born again” (John 3:7). Every man in Christ is a…

Read more

The Comeback Kid

Everyone loves a good comeback story. And I can think of no better example of a comeback than that of Mark, in the New Testament. I’m biased toward Mark for two reasons: (a) my parents named me after him (erroneously thinking he was one of the twelve apostles), and (b) his is a comeback story.…

Read more

The Rope

I am grateful for the life of Manasseh, the evil king of Judah. Manasseh lived a life of idolatry and sexual immorality. As a result, God allowed him to be taken captive by the evil Assyrian empire. But then everything changed. From captivity, Manasseh cried out to God. “In his distress he sought the favor…

Read more

A Plan that Works

In our addiction, we get everything backwards. Randy Alcorn writes, “God created us to love people and use things, but materialists love things and use people.”  Every addict I know has done the same thing. We use things – and people – to address every pleasure. If someone gets hurt in the process, well, that’s…

Read more

Rubik’s Cube

Guess who created the Rubik’s Cube?  Here’s a better question. How long did it take Erno Rubik to solve the cube after he created it?  Answer: one month. The current world record is 4.22 seconds. Here’s what happened. Erno Rubik invented the famous cube, but it took someone else to learn how to solve it…

Read more

Hunger Games

Hunger. It is one of the most overlooked aspects of recovery. To stay sober, you must stay hungry. And that is not always easy. That’s because the thing that got you into recovery may no longer be a force in your sobriety. The discovery, disease, or disaster may have long since passed. The urgency has…

Read more

The Best State to Live

I heard someone say, “I’m sure that wherever Mom is right now, she is looking down on us. She’s not dead, she’s just condescending.” Do you know anyone like that? Someone who thinks they have “arrived”? They have all the answers. They are beyond temptation. They have life – and recovery – all figured out.…

Read more

“This Is a Football”

Every season, for his first practice, legendary basketball coach John Wooden took the full hour to teach his players how to properly put on their shoes and socks. In a similar fashion, when Vince Lombardi welcomed his new rookies to camp, he always began the same way. Holding a football in his hand, he said,…

Read more

Empathy

It’s the gift everyone needs, but few are willing to pay the price to get it. Empathy. The problem is that empathy doesn’t come naturally for most of us. We want what comes easily. And empathy is rarely on that list. We’ve read the verse a zillion times: “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with…

Read more

Out of Your System

I’ve heard many guys say something like this, in the face of their strongest sexual temptations. “I’m just going to do it one more time, so I can get it out of my system.” Here’s the problem with that thinking. By doing what you think will get it out of your system, you are really…

Read more

Withdraw!

“But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray” (Luke 5:16). Withdraw. That was something Jesus did really well. He knew when to withdraw – from the city, the crowds, his disciples, even ministry. How good are you at that – withdrawing?  Dr. Monica Johnson, clinical psychologist, is an expert on stressors that threaten our…

Read more

Prepare

Everyone wants to be a winner. I’ve never met a person who wanted to fail at anything, including recovery. Yet, so many fail.  Why is that? Coach Bear Bryant nailed it. He said, “It’s not the will to win that matters. Everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.” We all…

Read more

One More Hit

“If I only had one more hit.” Millions are in search for that elusive “hit” that will forever satisfy their sexual and relational longings. We are convinced that by getting more of what is never enough, we will finally be content. Through thousands of porn images, hundreds of “hook-ups” and countless nights of self-pleasure, the…

Read more

John Belushi

Isolation is both a trigger and a fear. Being alone is a threat to our recovery, as we thrive on connection, which is the opposite of addiction. Actor John Belushi’s final words were quite telling. Shortly before his death in 1982, he said, “Just don’t leave me alone.” No one wants to be left alone.…

Read more

God’s Megaphone

“He turns midnight into dawn” (Amos 5:8). C.S. Lewis wrote, in The Problem of Pain, “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain. Pain is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”  Pain is a part of the big plan. What…

Read more

Bullfrogs

Bullfrogs don’t sleep. But don’t let that stop you. Rest is important. Otherwise, God wouldn’t have promised, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest” (Exodus 33:14). The Psychology Today staff writes, “The relationship between sleep and mental health – both positive and negative – is multifaceted and complex. But in…

Read more

Don’t Misread God

We misread God’s work all the time. One of our most common mistakes is that we incorrectly draw a correlation between (a) an easy, happy life, and (b) God’s approval. If things are going great, it is proof that God is good to us. Not so fast. The Old Testament prophet said, “You only have…

Read more

The Cake

We do it four times a year. We bake a chocolate cake – for each of the four birthdays in our family. And while the finished product is fantastic, the individual ingredients themselves don’t taste so good – raw eggs, flour, cake mix, vegetable oil. But put them together and stick it in the oven…

Read more

Your Past

Don’t gloss over your past. Your past can be a great teacher if you let it. Gordon MacDonald wrote, “If your yesterdays are in a state of good repair, they provide strength for today. If not repaired, they create havoc.” Most of us respond to our past in one of two ways, which are both…

Read more

Response

I am grateful for this promise: “The Lord is passionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love” (Psalm 103:8). I can’t imagine where I’d be if not for that grace. But God’s grace doesn’t take away from our need to do the hard work of recovery. James R. Miller said, “It is a great…

Read more

A Time to Give Up

In order to stay sober, you need to know when to surrender. The Old Testament writer said, “There is a time to search and a time to give up” (Ecclesiastes 3:6). For most of us, surrender doesn’t come easily. Why is this? Answer: we are all control freaks. That’s the nature of sin. We want…

Read more

Wisdom

You don’t relapse because you don’t know what to do. You relapse because you don’t do what you know. Mark Twain was right: “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you in trouble.” We don’t lack knowledge; we lack wisdom. David prayed, “God, look within the hearts of men and examine all their motives”…

Read more

The Road Less Traveled

You are probably familiar with Robert Frost’s famous poem, The Road Not Taken, in which he depicts a person facing a dilemma. He has two possible pathways from which to choose – one that is frequently traveled and one that is rarely taken. In the poem, the person chooses the road less traveled.  For the…

Read more

SpaceX

On April 20, Elon Musk’s SpaceX’s newest Starship rocket exploded just a few minutes after take-off. The next day, Musk lost $12.6 billion of his net worth when Tesla’s stock tanked.  His response? Keep moving forward. Musk called the SpaceX explosion a “successful failure.”  When others would drop their head and mope, Elon Musk learned…

Read more

Crooked

Solomon offered interesting wisdom when he said, “What is crooked cannot be straightened” (Ecclesiastes 1:15). That doesn’t mean we are beyond hope. But some of our choices have consequences with which we must live for the rest of our lives. Chuck Swindoll said it well: “No one can deny the relentless pain brought on by…

Read more

The Basement

“Although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their hearts, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:21). The darkened heart is like a basement at the bottom of the stairs. While my childhood home didn’t have a basement, our relatives’ home in Kansas did.…

Read more

Turn Off Your Camera

One of the most common questions I get is, “How do I overcome fantasy?” Of course, there is no silver bullet. The problem is that our biggest sex organ is our brain. As long as we have a brain, fantasy can be a threat. While there are many tools we can use to overcome fantasy…

Read more

Finger Posts

Raise your hand if you can think of any failures in your life. A guy named C.S. Lewis had this to say about failures: “Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward toward success.” If you really believe in Romans 8:28, you must also believe that God uses our…

Read more

Three Stages of Relapse

Relapses are the predictable outcome of a series of poor choices. A relapse is never an event, but a process. Relapses come in three phases: Don’t focus too much on the physical part of relapse, the actual acting out behavior. Focus more on how you get to that point. Give greater attention to what is…

Read more

Home Alone

Life is full of risks. And it is not always clear, what risks are worth taking. For example, did you know that Warner Brothers was producing the movie, Home Alone, but they pulled the plug on it at the last minute? They decided the $14 million cost was simply too high. There was no way…

Read more

Managing Stress

Stress is not your buddy. In fact, he is your enemy. While some stress can serve to motivate us to meet deadlines and complete projects, excessive stress is one of the major triggers for addiction. There are two kinds of stress. Acute stress is caused by a significant event or dilemma. Chronic stress is tied…

Read more

Shadows

While preparing for his fight with George Foreman, Muhammad Ali said, “I’ve seen George Foreman shadow box, and the shadow won.” Often, the shadow wins.  There are 52 references in the Bible to shadows. Here’s one such reference, tucked away in one of the least-read books of the Old Testament: “Our days on earth are…

Read more

Paper Airplanes

The most coveted record in the history of flight has just been broken. Dillon Ruble, Nathaniel Erickson, and Garrett Jensen, three engineers at Boeing, broke the record in December. What did they do? They designed a paper airplane that flew 290 feet with a single toss. Ruble was the one tasked with throwing the plane.…

Read more

Freedom Day

On this date in 1776, America was born. While we have readers from over 20 different countries, I think we can all agree that the American experiment has turned out pretty well, for the most part. But while I will join millions of others in celebrating our independence today, I recognize that God is not…

Read more

A Better Standard

Can you continue to lust after other people sexually and still be considered sober?  Yes and No. Technically, yes, if your definition of sobriety is that you do not act out physically. No, if you are defining sobriety in terms of your state of mind and your progress in recovery.  SA’s White Book defines sobriety…

Read more

Outside Shooters

Basketball player Weldon Drew quipped, “We have a great bunch of outside shooters. Unfortunately, all of our games are played indoors.” Location is everything. Here’s the good news. When you walk with God, you will never be alone, and you will always be in a place where he can really bless you. God promised his…

Read more

Boredom

Let’s talk about one of the five primary triggers for acting out – boredom.  Solomon had something to say about boredom. “Slothfulness casts into a deep sleep, and an idle person will suffer hunger” (Proverbs 19:15). Some studies indicate that 90 percent of Americans suffer from boredom at some point each day. Dr. Shahram Heshmat,…

Read more

30,000 Bees

As everybody knows, bees are currently at risk due to colony collapse disorder. Gary Schempp did something about it. He saved 30,000 bees from certain death by creating a better place for them to live, then transported them to their new home. At last check, the bees were still buzzing over their new digs. Now…

Read more

Finding Answers

“In the book of life, the answers aren’t in the back.”      – Charlie Brown, Peanuts We all need answers to life’s questions: For answers to life’s questions, we start with God’s Word. Always go there first. But sometimes, we also need the help of another person. That is God’s plan. Paul said it well: “Whatever…

Read more

Podcasts

Alice Cooper said, “If you’re listening to a rock star to get information on who to vote for, you’re a bigger moron than they are.” Solomon said, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel” (Proverbs 11:14). The question is, where do…

Read more

Be Positive

We all thrive under encouragement and die under criticism. Solomon said it like this: “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24). Unfortunately, we can’t always count on receiving a lot of encouragement from others. We need to create our own attitude of positivity. Leaders with the…

Read more

The Remote

Charlie Brown debuted in newspapers across the United States in 1950. For the next 50 years, he brought wisdom to readers far and wide. One of his many nuggets rings true for all of us: “Life has no remote. Get up and change it yourself.” Have you had a slip or relapse lately? If you…

Read more

The Key Ingredient

Experts at the Mayo Clinic have identified a key ingredient to successful recovery from any addiction. Friends. They write, “Friendships can have a major impact on your health and well-being, but it’s not always easy to develop or maintain friendships.” The famed clinic shares several benefits of strong friendships: The Bible is pro-friends. Paul wrote,…

Read more

A Forest

Jadav Payeng was tired of watching the local wildlife suffer for lack of shade, so he did something about it. Payeng planted a single bamboo tree. Then he planted a second tree. And then a third. Payeng would eventually plant enough trees to become a thickly wooded forest covering 1,360 acres.  Payeng’s job was not…

Read more

Scary Sneezing

I have endured a few scares in my lifetime. When I was eight, I ran through a glass door, resulting in deep cuts all over my body. At 27, the doctor said I probably had a serious cancer in my back. (I didn’t.) At 55, I rode Tower of Terror at Disney World. At 62,…

Read more

Gentle Jesus

“I am gentle.”      – Jesus (Matt. 11:29) There are many words Jesus could have used to describe himself. But he said gentle. “I am gentle.” Remember that the next time you are tempted to condemn someone due to a relapse or some other mistake.  Be gentle. There is someone else who needs you to be…

Read more

Forget It!

Recovery is all about looking forward. You can’t move forward while looking back. God’s Word says, “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43:18). I love that: “Remember not the former things.” That is…

Read more

Repeat the Verse

“Do it again on the next verse, and people will think you meant it.”      – Chet Adkins What’s true in music is true in life. When a singer repeats the same line over and over, it becomes memorable. We get the point – he is sending a clear message. Repetition communicates sincerity and importance.  It’s…

Read more

Helping Others

One of the best ways to secure your recovery is to help others to secure theirs. May we be like the psalmist who promised God, “Then will I teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you” (Psalm 51:13). When we encourage others in their recovery, and they respond, God awaits, full of mercy…

Read more

7th Step Prayer

Paul wasn’t talking about recovery, but he could have been when he said, “It does not depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy” (Romans 9:16).  Augustine said, “Trust the past to the mercy of God, the present to his love, and the future to his providence.” You have trusted your own instincts,…

Read more

Laughter

Don’t regret the hard times. Everything God has allowed, he will use. He will never let your most painful moments go to waste. And those times will not last forever.  Jack Hyles offered good insight when he said, “Laughter means nothing unless there have been tears.” I’m guessing that along your journey of addiction or…

Read more

The First Roller Coaster

People have been looking for ways to blow money since the Lydian Lion coin was created 2,700 years ago. In slightly more modern times, tourists couldn’t resist the urge to ride the world’s first roller coaster, even if it cost them something. Actually, it wasn’t supposed to be a roller coaster. When tourists witnessed rail…

Read more

Bourbon

On this day in history, June 14, 1789, a preacher named Elijah Craig introduced bourbon to America. The high reverend was the first to distill whiskey from maize. He named his concoction “bourbon” because he lived in Bourbon Country, Kentucky. If you google “Elijah Craig sermons” you will come up dry. But if you google…

Read more

The “P” Word

Passion is everything. It trumps intelligence, talent, and organization. You will never get far without passion.  Steve Jobs was right: “People with passion can change the world for the better.” Those who knew Jobs well will tell you that his passion was not about computers, but the impact that personal computers could have on the…

Read more

Dreams

“Lose your dream, you lose your mind.”      – Rolling Stones, Ruby Tuesday We all need to dream big dreams. Here are a few of my dreams: What are your dreams? God is into dreams. He wants you to have great dreams, dreams that fit his plan for your life of recovery. My prayer for you…

Read more

Do Something Today

Let me offer you the best advice you may get all day: Do something today that tomorrow will thank you for. Whatever you do today will have future consequences. You make your decisions, then your decisions make you. You can bank on that.  The prophet warned, “You have borne the penalty of your lewdness and…

Read more

Accountability

Accountability – you can’t stay sober without it. But what makes good accountability good? Peter Bregman, executive coach, and best-selling author, wrote an enlightening article, “The Right Way to Hold People Accountable.” He suggests five keys to effective accountability: You need to be accountable to someone else. And as you grow in your recovery, you…

Read more

Honest Arrogance

Frank Lloyd Wright wrote, “Early in my career, I had to choose between an honest arrogance and a hypocritical humility. I deliberately choose an honest arrogance, and I’ve never been sorry.” It’s okay to know you are good at something. But is it really necessary to tell everyone how good you are? With all due…

Read more

Lessons from War

On this date in history, June 8, 1862, the Battle of Cross Keys became a seminal moment in the American Civil War. On that day, Confederate General Stonewall Jackson saved the Army of Northern Virginia from a Union assault on the James Peninsula, which was led by General George B. McClellan.  On June 8, 1862,…

Read more

It’s How We Help

The 12th Step tells us to help others find recovery. Ben Franklin tells us how: “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” In order to secure our own recovery, we must help others to secure theirs. We do that by example, not lectures. It is by walking…

Read more

Amber Alerts

We are all familiar with Amber alerts, in America. These are alerts that go out over everyone’s smartphones, notifying us that someone has suddenly gone missing. But where did Amber alerts begin? The girl behind the Amber alerts was Amber Hagerman, a nine-year-old Girl Scout from Arlington, Texas. She was kidnapped while riding her bike…

Read more

The Truth Hurts

In one of the great movies of all time, Lt. Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen) said, “The truth hurts. Maybe not as much as jumping on a bicycle with a seat missing, but it hurts.” That line from Naked Gun 2.5 still resonates. Many times, the truth does hurt. When you discovered your dad was hooked…

Read more

Mother’s Advice

Erma Bombeck described her relationship with her mother: “When my mother asked, ‘Can I give you a piece of advice?’ it was a mere formality. Regardless of my response, I was going to get a piece of Mother’s advice.” Now, we may not always want wise counsel. But we always need wise counsel. The Bible…

Read more

The Perfect Date

Bob asked Jerry, “Describe your perfect date.” Jerry responded, “I’d have to say April 25. It’s not too hot and it’s not too cold.” I think Jerry missed the point of Bob’s question. The fact is, those who are single are always on a search for that elusive person we call “the perfect date.” Unfortunately,…

Read more

Fruit Loops

Let’s start the day with a deep philosophical question.  Did you know that even though Fruit Loops are different colors, they all have the same flavor? While you ponder that, let me move on. The Bible says, “The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one body. So it is with…

Read more

The Wrong Ladder

Artist William Blake completed a well-known etching that featured a little man climbing a ladder toward the moon. The caption read, “I Want! I Want!” We are all like that little man. In our restlessness, we climb and climb, in search for the satisfaction we want. When we finally make it to the top of…

Read more

Storm Windows

It has happened several times since we moved to Florida, just a few miles from the coast. A hurricane has threatened to relocate us to Georgia. Each time that happens, I get a truck, run down to a lumber yard, and buy a bunch of plywood. Once again, it’s time to board up. We cut…

Read more

More to Follow

Years ago, an anonymous painting of Niagara Falls ended up in a gallery. Because the artist hadn’t given the painting a title, the gallery personnel decided to entitle the painting “More to Follow.” That captures the essence of Niagara Falls. Billions of gallons of water have poured over the Falls over the years, but we…

Read more

Beating the Bully

Little Johnny had had enough. He was tired of the school bully taking his $5 lunch money every day, so he decided to do something about it. Johnny signed up for karate classes so he could learn to defend himself. But it wasn’t long before Johnny discovered that the cost of karate lessons was $10…

Read more

Ain’t That a Shame?

Shame is not your friend.  Guilt says, “You’ve done something bad.” Shame says, “You are bad.” If anyone could have lived in shame, it was the Apostle Paul, who had persecuted Christians prior to his own conversion. But Paul learned to run from shame.  In his great theological treatise, Paul asked, “Who will bring any…

Read more

Tell Your Face!

I once knew a Christian who was always down in the dumps. I asked him, “Why don’t you have the joy of the Lord?” He replied, “I do! I’m very happy!” I said, “Tell your face!” That conversation never really happened. But it could have. I know a lot of people who are very serious,…

Read more

The Dumpster

Imagine that you saw a man hanging around a dumpster. He looked hungry, so you gave him a $100 gift card to the supermarket just a few steps away. With that card he could purchase anything he wanted – steak, seafood, snacks, desserts, or produce. Your gift card would supply him with enough meals to…

Read more

The Best of All

It has been reported that John Wesley’s final words were, “The best of all is, God is with us.” That is a powerful promise. In your addiction, God is with you. In your pain, God is with you. In your betrayal, God is with you. You can’t chase him away. You can’t outrun God. Even…

Read more

A Whole Heart

“Amaziah was 25 years old when he became king, and he reigned for 29 years in Jerusalem. He did right in the sight of the Lord, yet not with a whole heart” (2 Chronicles 25:1-2). Amaziah became king at an age when most of us are still trying to graduate from college. To his credit,…

Read more

Jesus Was Hungry

“The next day, as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry” (Mark 11:12). In my mind, I easily see a conquering Jesus. I see a healing Jesus, a preaching Jesus, and a miracle-working Jesus.  But a hungry Jesus? The day before Jesus was hungry, Jesus was busy. He rode into Jerusalem triumphantly. He visited the…

Read more

The Last Ten Feet

Can you ever quit doing recovery work? What if you have ten years of sobriety? Or twenty?  I love the way Dr. Milton Magness says it: “You might outgrow addiction, but you’ll never outgrow recovery.” Let me use an analogy. Imagine that you are climbing a 14,000-foot mountain. The more you climb and the higher…

Read more

15 Years

God promised King Hezekiah, “I will add 15 more years to your life” (2 Kings 20:6). If you had a guarantee of 15 more years, what would you do with that promise? Let me suggest a few things. I give you 15 ideas for 15 years. Make your own list. Be proactive with your life…

Read more

Molly Brown

It happened on April 14, 1912, at 11:40 p.m. The unsinkable did the unthinkable. The RMS Titanic sank 2.5 miles to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. Of the 2,208 people aboard, about 1,500 died in the icy waters. But 712 survived. The most famous of the survivors was Molly Brown, who lived another 20…

Read more

Liberty or Death

On March 2, 1775, Patrick Henry spoke at St. John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia. He offered this famous line: “I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.” We should all cherish liberty as much as Patrick Henry did. Slaves to our addictions, we have…

Read more

Some

I recently came across a little verse in one of the least quoted books of the Bible. John, one of the early followers of Christ, was checking up on the development of new believers. Word came back to John. Notice his response to that report: “It has given me great joy to find some of…

Read more

The First Toy on TV

Mr. Potato Head was invented by George Lerner in 1949, and distributed widely by Hasbro. The new children’s toy was an overnight success. And anything that is a success is worth talking about. Within three years, the world had met Mr. Potato Head. In 1952, it became the first toy advertised on national television. Anything…

Read more

Change

What is recovery? The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) defines recovery as “a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.” The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) offers a slightly different definition. They write, “Recovery is an…

Read more

Bad Way to Burn Calories

There are several ways to burn calories. Swim one hour and you’ll burn 250 calories. By riding a bike for an hour, you can burn another 600. Walking an hour will burn 300 more.  If that’s not enough, try beating your head against a wall. Seriously. If you strike your head against a wall for…

Read more

Proverbs

Looking for a good laugh? Consider these nuggets of wisdom from the great Mark Twain. Better yet, let’s consider some even deeper truths from King Solomon. I love to read. Some of my favorite topics are history, theology, philosophy, politics, biographies, and sports. I enjoy the classics – the works of Tolstoy, Dickens, Twain, and…

Read more

Addiction Cycle

If you want an in-depth description of the addiction cycle, read the works of men who are much smarter than me – such as Milton Magness and Patrick Carnes. If you are a simple man like me, the following description may make sense. As I look back over the decades in which I lived in…

Read more

Preparation

Preparation is everything. Think of anything you’d like to accomplish: running a marathon, saving some money, losing 15 pounds, securing long-term sobriety. In each case, preparation is everything. Abraham Lincoln is quoted as saying, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four hours sharpening the axe.” If…

Read more

Boanthropy

You can believe anything you want, but that doesn’t make it true. I can believe I’m an NBA superstar, but that belief will not get me a great jump shot. I can believe I’m a millionaire, but that won’t pay the bills.  Believing something and being something are two different things.  Did you know there…

Read more

The Answer to Worry

Worry. It’s something we are all really good at. We all know how to worry and we all worry more than we should. The great Charlie Brown said it like this: “Sometimes you lie in bed at night and you don’t have a single thing to worry about. That always worries me!” As an addict,…

Read more

Mr. Beast

I googled “Famous people born on May 7.” These are the 12 names that came up: Tommy Fury, J Balvin, Jacob Bongiovi, Julia Antonelli, Chad Tepper, Sarah Baska, Rico Nasty, Tahani Anderson, Blake Rivera, Michael Rosen, Chiara Ferragni, and Mr. Beast. (Yes, Mr. Beast.) I’ve heard of exactly one of them – Tommy Fury (boxer).…

Read more

Why People Fail

Bestselling author Harvey Mackay has identified seven reasons that people fail in any endeavor. These hold true for recovery. I suggest you identify just one item from this list, which applies to your life and struggles. Correct this shortcoming, and you will see your recovery rise to an unprecedented level. Make the following passage of…

Read more

The First Jenner

Before there was Bruce Jenner, Caitlyn Jenner, Kendall Jenner, or Kylie Jenner, there was a man named Edward Jenner. While Edward never made the cover of People magazine, never changed sexes, or did any of the other things that make today’s headlines, he did have one thing on his resume that is pretty impressive.  In…

Read more

Others Will Hate

“Don’t be surprised if the world hates you” (1 John 3:13). Why did that verse have to be there? I mean, if we do everything right, we will be loved and celebrated by everyone in our path, right? Wrong. If you base your confidence, let alone your recovery, on the opinions of others, get ready…

Read more

It Doesn’t Make Sense

Some things just don’t make sense. Let’s consider just a few examples. There is no egg in eggplant, no ham in hamburgers, and no pine or apple in pineapples. English muffins were not invented in England, and French fries were not invented in France. Quicksand takes you down slowly, and boxing rings are square. Vegetarians…

Read more

Pursuing Passions

The biggest reason we get into trouble is that we don’t get into anything else first. In recovery, it is critical that we replace unhealthy passions with passions that are worthwhile. In his book, Facing the Shadows, Dr. Patrick Carnes writes, “Practice hobbies, sports, and activities you enjoy. Cultivate these parts of your life so…

Read more

Jabez

Jabez was barely mentioned in the Bible. His story, along with his famous prayer, is found in 1 Chronicles 4:9-10. “Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, ‘I gave birth to him in pain.’ Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, ‘Oh, that you would bless me…

Read more

Sliding Socks

There’s only one person who doesn’t have any hidden struggles. That is the person you haven’t met. Once you get to know them, you will discover they are just like everyone else. They have personal struggles that are not always obvious to the rest of us. Someone said, “I walk around like everything’s fine, but…

Read more

Two Kinds of Worries

Duke Ellington said, “There are two kinds of worries – those you can do something about and those you can’t. Don’t spend any time on the latter.” I find myself reciting The Serenity Prayer more and more these days. It reminds me to separate the things I can do something about from those things over…

Read more

Spectators and Athletes

Paul wrote to Timothy, “Train yourself to be godly. Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better” (1 Timothy 4:7-8). The word that is translated “training” referred specifically to the disciplined training done by gymnasts in Paul’s day. The commentators of The Recovery Bible add, “It is amazing what human beings can…

Read more

Unfelt Presence

“You, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you” (Psalm 9:10). Let that sink in.  In recovery, we must endure a lot of trials, temptations, and tests. We must deal with our past, pain, and persecution. We must move beyond our hurts, habits, and hang-ups. But there is one thing you never have to…

Read more

How to Be Happy

You want to be happy. We all do. But how do we find happiness? Let’s consider the research. Studies show that happiness is not simply an outcome of success, but is an ingredient to create success. Dr. Sonja Lyuboirsky explains that a worthwhile life comes from happiness, not the other way around.  Harvard psychologist Jal…

Read more

Know When to Run

“You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em Know when to fold ‘em Know when to walk away And when to run.”      – Kenny Rogers, The Gambler, 1976 That is the story of every addict. He must learn when to walk away and when to run.  Never was there a harder lesson for me to…

Read more

No More Vows

Jonah was hardly an exemplary example of integrity and obedience. But once he had been disciplined by God, once he had paid for his poor decisions, he came to one life-changing commitment.  The young prophet declared, “I will fulfill my vows” (Jonah 2:9). One can question whether Jonah’s follow-through matched his intentions. At least for…

Read more

The Problem with Lucy

When I want deep philosophical thought, I turn to . . . Charlie Brown. One day, Lucy looked at Charlie Brown and saw that he was depressed. She said, “Charlie Brown, the problem with you is that you are you.” Charlie responded, “Oh, and what can I do about that?” Lucy replied, “I’m not here…

Read more

A Rope

A hiker was walking down a country road one day when he heard a voice in the distance. “Help me! Someone help me now!” As the hiker followed the direction of the voice, he eventually came upon a horrifying scene. A man had fallen into a sea of quicksand, and was flailing helplessly as he…

Read more

How to Be Holy

“God chose us to be holy” (Ephesians 1:4). More than anything else, you were created for holiness. In order to live a life of holiness, you and I must disengage from unholiness. That means cutting ourselves off from the behaviors which Jesus personally identified as being contrary to the life we are called to live.…

Read more

A Way Out

The resurrection is the hinge on which the door of the Gospel swings. Yale professor and theologian Jaroslav Pelikan said, “If Christ is risen, nothing else matters. And if Christ is not risen, nothing else matters.” Paul affirmed this sentiment: “If Christ be not risen, your faith is in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14). If you…

Read more

A Reporter’s Miracle

Christopher Heimerman is a writer for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He checked all the boxes: But there was another side to Heimerman’s life. In his own words, “Hours after church, I was often funneling beer or whiskey in the quiet, dark corners of our house. Yet another domino tipped. Another week of drinking every day…

Read more

Preoccupied

Most of us care about ourselves more than we care about anyone else. Carl Jung said it like this: “It is a sin to be too preoccupied with yourself.” That is how we stay in addiction. We are too preoccupied with ourselves, our own pleasures, and our own lusts. It is that preoccupation that leads…

Read more

Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal stands out from the plains of Agra in Northern India. It is a testimony to the love of Shah Jahan for his favorite wife. Built in the 17th century, it took 20,000 workers 16 years to build the world’s most elaborate edifice.  God expressed his love in a different way.  “This is…

Read more

It’s Who You Are

A rabbit came upon a rattlesnake in the woods. The rattlesnake hissed, “I know what you are! You have big ears, a fluffy tail, and a wiggly nose. You’re a rabbit!” The rabbit responded to the rattlesnake, “I know what you are, too! You have beady eyes, a big mouth, a slick appearance, and diamonds…

Read more

Their Own

“They confessed their own sins” (Nehemiah 9:2). That is the story of the Jewish exiles who returned to Jerusalem in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah. They were working Steps 4 and 5 before Steps 4 and 5 had even been written. Taking a personal inventory of their shortcomings, they then released them with repentant…

Read more

Compassion

There is a great story in the New Testament about Jesus healing a man with leprosy (Mark 1:40-45). Notice how the story begins. “A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed. ‘If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean,’ he said. Moved with compassion,…

Read more

The Man Who Invented Sliced Bread

“That’s the greatest thing since sliced bread.” We’ve all said that a zillion times. Sliced bread has become the measuring stick of all great inventions. But has it ever occurred to you that there really was a person who invented sliced bread? Meet Otto Rohwedder, of Davenport, Iowa. Working for Chillicothe Baking Company, Mr. Rohwedder…

Read more

The Running God

Let’s play Bible Trivia. Can you name the only time in the Bible when God is shown running? Answer – Luke 15:20 “So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and…

Read more

The Rising Corpse

Here are just a few strange, but true stories. A man went to a funeral, and he saw the deceased rise from the casket and stand in front of the church as the attendees entered. A woman returned home from work one day, only to find the sofa cushions arranged on the floor in the…

Read more

Take a Bow

Martin Luther told the story of his professor who started every class the same way. He’d enter the room, hang up his coat, then bow before each student, one by one. Eventually, Luther managed the courage to ask the professor why he did this. The professor explained, “I bow before you in honor of what…

Read more

No Gaps Remained

I’ve been reading through the Book of Nehemiah. It has long been one of my favorite books of the Bible. But yesterday, I came across a little verse that had escaped me until now. “Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies found out that I had finished rebuilding the wall and…

Read more

Samaria

Between one set of miracles and another, the Bible says, “Now Jesus had to go through Samaria” (John 4:14). And so he was on his way, from Judah to Galilee, passing through the land of Samaria – an unwelcome place. The Samaritans were considered half-breeds, as they were the offspring of Jews and Gentiles. They…

Read more

Thy Will Be Done

Surrender is the central theme of recovery. Until you surrender your will to God’s, he cannot do for you what you have been unable to do for yourself. I love the way C.S. Lewis said it: “One of two things will happen to you. You will tell God, ‘Thy will be done.’ Or in the…

Read more

Puddles

“Now John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water there” (John 3:23). I’m sure I’ve read that verse at least a hundred times. But it never hit me like it did today. For some reason, I never caught the impact of the last seven words: “because there was plenty…

Read more

Lou Gehrig

Lou Gehrig was one of the greatest hitters in the history of baseball, and a true gentleman. He famously never argued with the umpires. That is why one particular game stood out. After taking a third strike, Gehrig turned to the home plate umpire and said something that no one else could hear. He then…

Read more

Do You Feel Lucky?

“You’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do ya, punk?”       – Clint Eastwood, Dirty Harry (1971)  I’ve learned one overarching lesson from my years of recovery, study, and working with men in addiction. Lucky is not a plan. Let me explain. Too often, in our quest for recovery, we just…

Read more

Duck!

On this date in history, 42 years ago, President Ronald Reagan nearly died in office. On March 30, 1981, less than three months into his first term, Reagan was shot by John Hinckley as he left a Washington hotel. A few days later, Reagan explained what he did wrong, with his typical sense of humor.…

Read more

15,000 Times a Day

According to various research projects, we have 15,000 thoughts per day, 80 percent of which are negative and 95 percent are repetitive. Most of our thoughts are random, unintended, and trivial. A productive thought life does not come naturally. Henry Ford said, “Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason so…

Read more

The Best Timber

A hiker crossed paths with a farmer who was hiking up a mountain with an ax in his hand. The hiker asked the farmer why he had the ax, and the farmer answered, “I’m climbing the mountain with an ax to cut up some timber because I’m making a wagon.” The hiker replied, “But look…

Read more

The Greatest Invention

In 1955, Eugene Polley changed the course of human history. That was the year when the 47-year employee of Zenith Electronics invented the TV remote control. That was just one of Polley’s 18 patents. But who cares about the other 17? The remote control has saved millions of lazy television viewers the hardship of getting…

Read more

Muhammad Ali and UFOs

On March 31, 1973, Ken Norton defeated Muhammad Ali in decisive fashion, breaking his jaw in the second round. Their rematch came six months later, on September 10. But something bizarre happened three nights before their second fight. Both fighters made a joint appearance on The Tonight Show, with Johnny Carson. After Norton discussed the…

Read more

Overcomers

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther – an obscure Augustinian monk – nailed a document protesting the teachings and practices of the Church to the main door of Castle Church in Wittenberg. His actions sparked the flames of the Protestant Reformation. In 1939, Nicholas Winton – an ordinary 39-year-old stockbroker from London – managed to…

Read more

Only in Texas

Before we begin, for the sake of transparency, let me say that I’m from Texas and will always consider myself a proud Texan. Maybe that’s why I can recognize the wisdom of these laws that are still on the books in Texas. For the first 55 years of my life, I lived in Texas. Today,…

Read more

The Long Way Home

“The end of the matter is better than its beginning” (Ecclesiastes 7:8). The Book of Exodus gives us the account of God’s children making their way from Egypt to the Promised Land. Had they taken the most direct route, it would have been a 200-mile trek. But God led them on the long route, which…

Read more

Why We Fall Short

Setting goals is not the problem. The problem is setting the right goals, and then sticking with them. Make no mistake. God wants you to set goals and he wants you to be successful. We read, “May God give you the desire of your heart and make your plans succeed” (Psalm 20:4).  So why do…

Read more

The Secret Sauce

The secret sauce of recovery is community. You cannot find recovery without it. You were made for community. To try to stay sober on your own is to mock the God who said to “be perfectly united [with others] in mind and thought” (1 Corinthians 1:10). Daniel Siegel wrote, in Aware, “Relationships are not icing…

Read more

Rest

“Some of you chaps should go home and take naps.”       – Dr. Seuss There are five primary triggers that make us want to act out. You can remember them with the acronym “B.L.A.S.T.” We tend to relapse when we are . . . Let’s talk about that last one – tired. One of the worst…

Read more

Hang On to Your Harp

Psalm 137:2 “There on the willows we hung our harps.” The children of God had passed from the uttermost to the gutter most. Once proud inhabitants of the land that flowed with milk and honey, they were now enslaved in the land of Babylon. Their response was understandable: “By the rivers of Babylon we sat…

Read more

Life Is Short

Life is short. Let me give you just a few examples. Why do I share these horrifying stories? Because I want to reinforce the fact that life is fragile and life is short. So what’s my point? My point is that each of us would be wise to measure the state of our sobriety, recovery,…

Read more

Daily Thoughts

A 2020 study of 184 participants found that we have an average of 6,000 thoughts per day. Other studies take this number to 60,000 or 70,000. Another study found that 80 percent of our daily thoughts are negative. Our minds tend to run to the worst case scenario. We are consumed with thoughts about all…

Read more

Four Voices

What you do tomorrow will be determined by the voice you listen to today. Patrick Morley, founder of Man in the Mirror, says that throughout each day, we listen to four voices: We can’t always cut off these voices, but we do get to choose which ones we will listen to and which ones we…

Read more

The Pastor’s Massage

One Sunday, when the pastor was out of town, the church bulletin provided this announcement: “With Pastor Johnson out this week, please give his massages to his secretary.” One letter can mean everything. In case you didn’t catch that, there is a big difference between a message and a massage.  In English, one letter can…

Read more

The $30 Million Mistake

On November 15, 2006, Abraham Lee Shakespeare stopped at the Town Star convenience store in Frostproof, Florida, to buy a soft drink. He had $5 to his name, and he spent $2 of that on a couple of lottery tickets. One of the tickets won big. Shakespeare became a millionaire – 30 times over. Two…

Read more

The First Coke

On this date in 1894, Coca-Cola was bottled and sold for the first time, in Vicksburg, Mississippi, by local fountain owner Joseph Bieden. Today, 1.9 billion servings of Coca-Cola will be served in over 200 countries. Annual revenues total $38 billion. Since its first offering, several new renditions of Coke have been introduced: Diet Coke…

Read more

Every Thought

A businessman came home from the office and collapsed on the living room couch, completely exhausted.  “What’s wrong?” asked his wife. “It was terrible,” said her husband. “All of our office computers went down today, so we had to do our own thinking.” I predate the laptop. I was raised back in the day when…

Read more

The God Who Sees

“He said, ‘Hagar, Sarai’s maid, where have you come from and where are you going?’ Then she called on the name of the Lord who spoke to her, ‘You are a God who sees’” (Genesis 16:8, 13). You may remember this story. Hagar was pregnant. She had fled from her nemesis Sarai. But the Lord…

Read more

Fish Climbing a Tree

Every person you know knows something that you don’t. So you have something to learn from everyone. And everyone has something to learn from you. That’s because we all have strengths and we all have weaknesses. Albert Einstein said, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by his ability to climb a…

Read more

Lesson from the Shepherds

In 1966, the new Metropolitan Opera House opened in New York. It was one of the social events of the 20th century.  But imagine if the Board of the Metropolitan Opera had said, “For our opening night, with the greatest orchestra ever assembled, we’re going to invite homeless people, and as many down and out…

Read more

Friends

Here are some things you need to know. You yawn the most after breakfast. You lose weight if you sleep in a cold room. You are the tallest thing in the morning. Sharp knives are safer than dull knives. People with friends live longer. Wait. Let’s go back to that last one. People with friends…

Read more

Not Yet

In my world, people fall into one of two groups. They are either walking in purity and freedom or they want to be. Those who want to be may be holding onto old habits or embedded in unhealthy relationships. They want out, but they just aren’t ready yet. St. Augustine once quipped, “Lord, help me…

Read more

#1 Key to Sobriety

I recently read an article titled, 40 Tips for Staying Sober Under Pressure. I’m sure you can google it. It’s right there, with other articles on the 11 Tips, 7 Tips, and 21 Tips articles.  But let’s cut to the chase. I will give you the #1 way to stay sober. It works every time. …

Read more

“We All Fall Down!”

“Ring around the rosie A pocket full of posies Ashes! Ashes! We all fall down!”       – Kate Greenaway, 1881 Peter and Iona Opie, the leading authorities on nursery rhymes, suggest that the meaning of this timeless rhyme is tied to the Great Plague of 1665, in which millions “fell down.” “We all fall down” is…

Read more

Knute Rockne

In 1931, Knute Rockne died in a plane crash at the age of 43. Having led Notre Dame’s football program for the last ten years, Rockne was recognized as America’s first great college coach. His lessons are still taught in locker rooms and on football fields today.  Here’s just one gem from the legendary coach:…

Read more

First Pillar of Recovery

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) identifies four pillars of recovery: Let’s talk about the first one, which we probably focus on the least as addicts.  John wrote, “Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health” (3 John 1:2). Self-care is absolutely…

Read more

A Dark Day in History

For those of us living in the United States, this is a dark day in our nation’s history. On this date, February 25, 1913, Congress passed the 16th Amendment, which set the legal basis for the national income tax. No one enjoys tax day. Otherwise, they would pay more taxes than is required. But paying…

Read more

Stay At Your Post

“And the lookout shouted, ‘Day after day, my lord, I stand on the watchtower; every night I stay at my post’” (Isaiah 21:8). In recovery, the prize goes to the man who stays at his post. It’s not about doing something spectacular. It’s not about being named “Recovery Man of the Year.” It’s about staying…

Read more

Where Sobriety Begins

“Acceptance is the answer to all my problems.”      – Alcoholics Anonymous  “For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, ‘Fear not, I am the one who helps you’” (Isaiah 41:13). Recovery is a long road. The first step is always the same – acceptance. Step 1…

Read more

Because He Lives

“Because I know He holds the future,  And life is worth the living,  Just because He lives.”      – Because He Lives        Bill Gaither Because He Lives was written by Bill and Gloria Gaither when they were expecting their first child in the late 1960s. They were going through a traumatic time, as Bill was recovering…

Read more

Algebra

When I was a kid, I often explained my resistance to doing homework with a timeless refrain. “I will never need this in real life!” I appreciate social commentator Fran Lebowitz, who wryly observed, “In real life, there is no such thing as algebra.” Perhaps Solomon was thinking about algebra when he lamented, “It’s all…

Read more

Nothing Is Possible

I heard someone say, “People say nothing is impossible. I disagree. I do nothing every day.” I have found that it is the people who do nothing that get into the most trouble. By not staying busy, they create a vacuum. And just about anything can fill an open vacuum. One of the five basic…

Read more

Bad Driver

An unobservant driver made an illegal right turn onto another street. Exasperated, he turned to his young son in the passenger seat and said, “That was stupid! I just made an illegal right turn!” His son offered encouragement. “Aw, dad, it’s okay. The police car right behind us just did the same thing.” That boy…

Read more

The Fence

There was a young boy who struggled with profanity. His father took him to a field across the street from their home, where there stood an old fence. He gave his son a box of nails and a hammer. “Every time you say a bad word, hammer a new nail into the fence,” he said. …

Read more

Regrets

“Regrets, I’ve had a few. But then again, too few to mention. I did what I had to do, And saw it through without exemption.”       – Frank Sinatra, My Way Regrets – we’ve all had a few. Let’s talk about regrets. According to psychologist Tom Gilovich, there is a difference between short-term and long-term regrets.…

Read more

God Really Does This?

God does a lot of things. He creates. He saves. He redeems. He forgives. He protects. He leads. He provides. He overcomes. He heals.  But there’s more. God does something else. The old prophet declared, “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with…

Read more

Overcoming Failure

Recovery is about more than stringing together several days of sobriety. Recovery is as much about overcoming failures as it is about creating success. I read an interesting article in Forbes (October, 2020), which addresses seven ways to overcome failure. One of the keys is profound: “Don’t be tempted to lower your ambitions.” In other…

Read more

Four Inches

“According to the map, we’ve only gone four inches.”      – Jeff Daniels, Dumb and Dumber (1994) Have you ever felt that way? In my personal recovery, there have been so many times that I felt like, despite a lot of really good effort, I had only progressed four inches. But here’s the deal – recovery…

Read more

Broken Records

There’s an old saying in sports – “Records are made to be broken.” Well, here are a few records that might never be broken: Paul was a champion of breaking records, of reaching heights never achieved before. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). Now, think “recovery.” What can you…