He Got a B-

Robert G. Heft designed the current United States flag as a school project. His teacher was not impressed, so Robert received a grade of “B-.” But the teacher promised to change his grade to an “A” if his design was adopted by Congress as the official flag. So Robert got his “A” and America got…

Read more

Withdraw

“Jesus withdrew to a region near the wilderness” (John 11:54). That simple act of withdrawal would be one of Jesus’ most profound sermons. His message to those nearest him was clear – we need time away from it all, to unwind and restart our engines. You will recall that John 11 tells the story of…

Read more

Presidential Parrot

On June 8, 1845, America’s seventh president died. A few days later, the funeral service of Andrew Jackson attracted thousands. One particular attendee was removed during the service because of his uncontrollable behavior. Throughout the service, he kept interrupting the speakers with fits of profanity. Who was this disrespectful guest? The president’s pet parrot.  Here’s…

Read more

GDP

Dr. Catherine Cox conducted an extensive analysis of 3,000 significant figures in history. She discovered an interesting commonality among them all. Each of these highly successful people recorded their thoughts, feelings, ideas, and insights. In other words, they journaled. If you are new to journaling, let me help. Try my GDP formula. No, not Gross…

Read more

Popcorn in Movies

Popcorn hasn’t always been a snack in movie theaters. Theaters actually hated popcorn in the beginning. Silent films require a literate audience, focused on the movie. So upscale movie theaters banned food during the show – especially popcorn. They demanded full concentration from theater attendees.  Now, everyone eats popcorn in a movie theater. We have…

Read more

Social Media

I’ve heard a lot of successful strategies for how to do well in recovery. But there is one line I have never heard. “I struggled with my sobriety until I started spending more time on social media.” In my latest book, Recovery Rules, I suggest 100 simple truisms that can enhance your recovery. Here’s Rule…

Read more

One Person

One person can make a big difference. Jadav Payeng dedicated his life to planting a forest. What resulted was a wooded area spanning 1,360 acres. Edward Jenner developed the smallpox vaccine, which eradicated an illness that had claimed 500 million lives. In the 15th century, Johannes Gutenberg created the printing press. One person can make…

Read more

Do It Now!

“Seek the Lord while he may be found” (Isaiah 55:6). Isaiah had connected with God and been given a peek into what was to come. The closeness he had experienced with God undoubtedly caused him to want others to experience him intimately, too. Through Isaiah, the Lord told his people to seek him with their…

Read more

Dolly Parton

We all want to be someone else. In the process, we forget who really are. Philosopher Dolly Parton said, “I’m not offended by blonde jokes because I know I’m not dumb. I also know I’m not blonde.” The old American poet, E.E. Cummings, wrote, “The hardest challenge is to be yourself in a world where…

Read more

Obstacles

We need someone stronger than our problems because our problems are stronger than us. The psalmist wrote, “Praise the Lord, who carries our burdens day after day; he is the God who saves us” (Psalm 68:19). Dr. Karyn Hall, author of The Emotionally Sensitive Person, has a lot to say about the obstacles we face…

Read more

The Naked Truth

Garry Shandling said, “My friends tell me that I have an intimacy problem. But they don’t really know me.” I can relate. I’ll never forget the first time I heard that sexual addiction is an intimacy disorder. I was having breakfast with a man who has a recovery ministry. He mentioned, “Of course, sexual addiction…

Read more

Two Questions

Jesus set the example for how to live a good life, early on. At the age of 12, he already knew his calling and he knew his business. He said, “Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49).  At the end of his life, Jesus told his Father, “I…

Read more

A Night in Paradise

As of 1961, there is one place on Earth where you can go to escape all political strife. There are no international conflicts there. It is a place of peace and tranquility, absent the turmoil found across the rest of the globe. Further, it is a haven of nature, virtually untouched by pollution or disease.…

Read more

Crawling Is Fine

Martin Luther King, Jr.: “If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl. Whatever you do, keep moving forward.” The prophet said it like this: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past” (Isaiah 43:18). This is a huge challenge for men and women…

Read more

Don’t Do It!

I’m not a huge fan of checking in a sobriety date at the start of recovery meetings. I know that sounds crazy, coming from a guy who has checked in his sobriety date at his SA meeting every Thursday for nine years. I’m okay with it, but I’m not a big fan. Let me explain…

Read more

Integrity

Do you want to live a life of integrity? Let’s talk about it. “Integrity” is an interesting word. The root word is “integer,” which means “unit of one.” It’s about the whole pie, not just one slice.  The moment you start segmenting your life into different pieces – your church life, family life, work life,…

Read more

Darts

Satan’s primary attacks will be on your mind. These are the thoughts he will try to implant: So what’s the answer? The answer is to carry a shield that is capable of protection from these darts. The Bible calls it a “shield of faith.” Paul wrote, “At all times, carry faith as a shield, for…

Read more

The Right Habit

“And he said to them all, ‘If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me’” (Luke 9:23). The key word – daily. Anyone can follow Jesus across the street. But we are called to follow him across the decades. And we are to do…

Read more

Spike the Ball

Over his remarkable ten-year career, Barry Sanders scored 109 touchdowns. Not once did he celebrate by spiking the ball or doing a crazy end-zone dance. After each score, he simply ran over to a referee and handed him the ball. Why no celebration? Sanders explained, “The job wasn’t finished yet.” There was still more time…

Read more

Reverse the Script

Most of us take credit for our wins and blame God for our losses. We don’t actually say it. But we think it. “I got the promotion because I deserved it.” “I earned the raise.” “I worked for everything I’ve got.” But when things don’t go our way, it is beyond our control. We blame…

Read more

Radio Address

Perhaps Solomon had a politician in mind when he wrote, “Fools find no pleasure in understanding, but delight in airing their own opinions” (Proverbs 18:2).  Warren G. Harding did just that 102 years ago today. He aired his own opinion. On June 14, 1922, Warren G. Harding became the first president to address the American…

Read more

Dad

1924 was a significant year. These historically significant events all took place 100 years ago. That was the year that Edgar Hoover was appointed the head of the FBI. In 1924, the loudspeaker was invented by Rice and Kellogg, along with the spiral notebook. IBM was founded and Walt Disney created his first cartoon, Alice’s…

Read more

The Lesson of Moses

“And he said, ‘My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest’” (Exodus 33:14). When he was leading the Jewish people from 400 years of Egyptian slavery toward the Promised Land, Moses had to deal with constant complaining and stubbornness. The difficulty of the task led to episodes of temper and depression…

Read more

Born to Fight

You were born into a battle. It’s not a fight you asked for, but you got it. This world is on fire, and there are two forces at war at all times – good and evil. God vs Satan. And each of us must take sides. Making matters worse, you were born with an unwanted…

Read more

Burgers

Every year, Americans eat enough hamburgers that if stacked side to side would stretch around the Earth 32 times. That is 50 billion burgers. I did the math. That comes to 156 burgers per person, per year. And that comes to 125,000 calories per person, per year. That equals the suggested calorie intake for two…

Read more

Journey

Let’s talk “journey.” The road is not always easy, but it is always worth it. God promises, “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you” (Isaiah 43:2).  Add these words from Max Lucado: “God never said that the journey would be easy, but he did say that the arrival would be worthwhile.”…

Read more

Illegal Snow Cones

I’m old-fashioned. I think a nation should actually enforce its own laws, whether I personally agree with every law or not. Like in Providence, Rhode Island. It is against the law to sell both toothpaste and a toothbrush to the same customer on a Sunday. Does that make sense? Maybe not. But it’s the law.…

Read more

Mountain Preacher

The first person to climb Denali (Mt. McKinley) may surprise you. It happened 111 years ago today. Hudson Stuck led a group of friends across the difficult terrain of Alaska. In March, the 20,310-foot climb was planned. Undeterred by altitude sickness, bitter cold, and avalanches, the team of three men reached the summit on June…

Read more

Play It Again, Sam!

If you know anything about old movies, you are familiar with this iconic line from the classic, Casablanca. “Play it again, Sam.” The problem is that Sam, in the movie, couldn’t actually “play it again,” because he was a drummer, not a piano player.  We know that nothing is impossible with God. Jesus said it…

Read more

I Write the Songs

Okay, fellow Barry Manilow fans, get ready to be disappointed. You are familiar with his most popular song, I Write the Songs. Here’s the sad part. Barry Manilow didn’t write that song. I Write the Songs was actually written by Bruce Johnston of the Beach Boys. The 1976 hit won the Grammy Award for “Song…

Read more

Heroes

With all famous people, there is something you didn’t know. For example: It gets worse. Think about your personal heroes. I have had several. Many of them are in heaven now. A couple of them are still living, in their 90s. But here’s the thing. Heroes have faults. I was rocked to my core when…

Read more

Who Needs to Know?

Be wise about who you tell your story to, how much of it you tell, and when to stop talking. Henri Nouwen wrote, “There is a false form of honesty that suggests that nothing should remain hidden and that everything should be said.” He then talked about “protecting your inner sanctuary.” There is often a…

Read more

Holy Spirit

Let’s talk about the Holy Spirit. Oswald Chambers once said, “The Holy Spirit is the first practical power we come to experience. But he’s the last power that we come to understand in the Christian life.”  Benny Tate, in his groundbreaking book, Unlimited, writes, “Many times, we’re seeking something rather than somebody. There are fruits…

Read more

Mushroom vs Oak Tree

“And the Lord – who is the Spirit – makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image” (2 Corinthians 3:18). Sometimes, change is gradual. Rick Warren writes, “The Holy Spirit works within us to make us gradually more and more like him.” Paul said we become different people…

Read more

New

November 22, 1963, is a date most of you will recognize. It was on that Friday that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated as his presidential limousine made its way through downtown Dallas, bringing an end to the innocence of America. But I would argue that May 29, 1917, was an even more important date.…

Read more

Addictive Personality

Dr. Mark Griffiths is a psychologist and professor at Nottingham Trent University. He has done extensive research on the causes of addiction. His conclusion: “There is no personality trait that predicts addiction and addiction alone.” Griffiths writes about what he calls “the myth of the addictive personality.” With two colleagues, Dr. Griffiths did extensive research.…

Read more

Spurgeon

Charles Spurgeon was a prolific author and speaker. Born in 1834, he produced over 3,600 sermons and dozens of books before his death in 1892. Spurgeon came to the Lord as a teenager, apparently by “accident.” En route to an appointment, he was sidetracked by a snowstorm and took refuge in a chapel, where he…

Read more

Jabez

Are you familiar with the Prayer of Jabez? “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 and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep…

Read more

A Truel

Words matter, but not as much as the meaning behind those words. A duel with three people isn’t actually called a duel. It’s a truel. Three-way duels have been described since at least the nineteenth century, but the word “truel” was not introduced until the 1960s, in books about game theory and gambling. In recovery,…

Read more

Dream On

“Chase your dreams!” That sounds like good advice, and sometimes it is. But not always. It depends on the dream. Eighteenth-century composer Giuseppe Tartini once had a dream that he handed the devil his violin to see what he could do with it. The Prince of Darkness played the most amazing piece Tartini had ever…

Read more

Uber

It was another long night for the Uber driver. Over 12 hours, he drove countless people from restaurants and bars to their homes. The driver’s work wasn’t done until the dawning of the next day. Just another Friday night in a string of Friday nights over a period of two or three years. Drunks, profanity,…

Read more

Bus Driver

A young boy was standing in the middle of the block, not on the corner. A businessman saw him and told him that the bus wouldn’t stop in the middle of the block. “You need to go to the corner where there is a bus stop,” he said. But the boy just replied, “I have…

Read more

The Killer B’s

Recovery is a long journey, not for the faint of heart. Since my first meeting 12 years ago, I have been in well over 2,000 recovery meetings, including those that I lead. I have seen the spectrum – guys with 30 years of sobriety and those who struggle to get 24 hours. Sadly, I have…

Read more

Planting Gardens

In his message to the exiles, Jeremiah declares a word of hope from the Lord: “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).  We’ve all read that verse, memorized that verse, and quoted that verse many…

Read more

Three Gospels

There are three gospels: One of these “gospels” is unlike the other two. Two of them are about me. One is about you. When I buy into the poverty gospel or the prosperity gospel, I am making it all about myself. But when I live according to the generosity gospel, I am focused on helping…

Read more

Storming the Court

It finally happened. On February 14, the Detroit Mercy College men’s basketball team won a game. Their record 27-game losing streak had come to an end. With a win over IUPUI, the Titans notched their first win of the season on their home court. The fan went nuts. Yes, the fan. Not “fans.”  A lone…

Read more

Rest of the Story

As Paul Harvey used to say, let me give you the “rest of the story.” Let’s talk about rest.  Rest has dozens of great benefits for the addict, or anyone else. Here are just a few. There is a reason we often “sleep on it.” A time of rest puts us in a better position…

Read more

The Race

Let’s talk about endurance running. Let’s talk about Kim Allan. She set the world record for women’s endurance running in 2013 when she completed 310 miles in just over 86 hours – with no sleep. Before you give up on such feats yourself, consider the benefits of running 310 miles, a distance greater than New…

Read more

Good Laughter

Would you like a good laugh? I’ll give it a shot. Pick from among three jokes: Laughter is biblical. The Bible says, “We were filled with laughter, and we sang for joy. And the other nations said, ‘What amazing things the Lord has done for them’” (Psalm 126:2). Did you catch that? When God’s people…

Read more

Fear of Long Words

The fear of long words is called “hippopotomonstrosesquippeda.” Makes sense. It took a 36-letter word to define a fear of long words. This word was first used by the Roman poet Horace in the first century to criticize writers with an unreasonable penchant for long words.  God is all about simplicity. The Message Bible reads,…

Read more

All the Answers

It’s okay to not have all the answers. Michael Rounds is the author of 10,000 Days Sober and an addiction recovery specialist at a correctional facility in Indiana. From his personal perspective, he suggests four ways to deal with a slip in recovery. One of those is to treat recovery as a marathon, not a…

Read more

World’s Strongest Man

Paul Anderson was the world’s strongest man. In 1957, he backlifted a table loaded with calibrated weights totaling 6,250 pounds. The 1985 Guinness Book of World Records said this lift was “the greatest weight ever raised by a human being.” Anderson made over 500 public appearances, in which he impressed millions with amazing feats of…

Read more

Mysteries

On January 20, 1987, Unsolved Mysteries began a run that lasted for 602 episodes. Hosted by Raymond Burr, Karl Madden, and Robert Stack, the show unearthed some of the great mysteries that had never been solved. Everyone loves a good mystery. Mystery books are the second most popular genre of books sold each year. Over…

Read more

Why We Lie

Paul Ekman is a well-known psychologist and was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine in 2009. Ekman has spent over 50 years studying the habits of men and women. As a result, he has produced a list of the reasons that people lie. Interestingly, Dr. Ekman concludes…

Read more

Home Field Advantage

In baseball, teams play 162 games to see who can get the best record and that which comes with it – home-field advantage. In football, playing at home is worth about three points in the odds. In the NBA, the home team wins 63 percent of the time. In the NFL, it is 58 percent.…

Read more

Toy Story Lesson

The question is not whether you will fail, but when you will fail. And what you do next. Andrew Stanton, the director behind Toy Story, offered wise counsel: “Fail early and fail fast. Be wrong as fast as you can.” In other words, learn from your mistakes. Let your failures instruct your future, and move…

Read more

Napoleon’s Sad Ending

Finishing strong is epic. Ever heard of a fellow named Napoleon Bonaparte? One of the greatest military minds and conquerors in history, Napoleon died on this date 203 years ago. Things didn’t end as he would have hoped. After expanding the French empire across Europe, he began to experience military setbacks in 1812 and suffered…

Read more

Pain for Blessing

Your pain is the price you must pay for someone else’s blessing. Rick Warren writes, “In every area of your life where you’ve had pain, you have a testimony.” It is your suffering, not your success, that gives you credibility. No one turns to your God because you handled your great days well. They turn…

Read more

50-1 Longshot

In the 135th running of the Kentucky Derby, in 2009, jockey Calvin Borel rode Mine That Bird to a most unexpected victory. A 50-1 long shot, the horse was running dead last until the final turn. No race was ever won before the final turn. You may not be winning right now, but the outcome…

Read more

Psychic

Jay Leno asked that probing question that has kept so many of us up at night. “How come you never see a headline that reads, ‘Psychic Wins Lottery’”? That’s a great question. I mean, if I were a psychic, I promise you, I’d buy every winning lotto ticket I could. It wouldn’t even be gambling,…

Read more

Prefrontal Cortex

Why do addicts become addicts? What happens on a physiological level? Substances and behaviors of abuse act directly on the reward center of the brain to deliver their high. This involves the speedy and intense release of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Addictive behaviors become a shortcut to reward, which, over time, can have a high cost…

Read more

Crazy Fear

We are all afraid of something.  Napoleon was afraid of rabbits. One day he was hunting when a swarm of rabbits appeared. In fear, Napolean ran for his life, hiding behind his men. Arnold Schoenberg was afraid of the number 13. The great composer attributed all of his life’s bad luck to the fact that…

Read more

Recovery Rules

Last year, I wrote my favorite book to date, Recovery Rules. I unpack 100 truisms of recovery. Let me give you a few of the rules here. Pick one that you like and live by it today. The Bible says we are to sharpen one another as iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17). I pray these…

Read more

Keep Moving

Let me give you two powerful words – keep moving. That’s what the early church did. As soon as they had set apart five elders to lead the church, they sent two of them away. “While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for…

Read more

Control

“Then they gathered around him and asked him, ‘Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’” (Acts 1:6). This was man’s attempt to control the Savior. They wanted things to happen on their terms and in their timing. That’s not unusual. The disciples were probably suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder…

Read more

Tomorrow in Australia

Most of us have the gift of worry. Let’s talk about it. A lot of us worry about what is coming the next day. Jesus advised against that. He said, “Do not be anxious about tomorrow” (Matthew 6:34). And Charles M. Schulz (Peanuts) said, “Stop worrying about the world ending today. It’s already tomorrow in…

Read more

The Meaning of Life

What is the meaning of life? Tolstoy said, “The sole meaning of life is to serve humanity.” There is a Chinese saying that goes, “If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you…

Read more

Avoid Three Things

There are three things that put our sobriety at great risk: Every day, we make a decision to do one of two things. We either run from danger or toward danger. The Bible says it like this: “Each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed” (James 1:14).…

Read more

The Water Recedes

“The water receded” (Genesis 8:1). With those three words, God brought an end to the epic story of the great flood. From the oceans to the skies, the Creator was screaming one word across the globe. Hope. Know this. When your boat takes on water, the water will recede. When your debt consumes you, the…

Read more

Rainbows

According to folklore, leprechauns found abandoned gold and buried it so no one could find it; it can only be recovered at the end of a rainbow, where the rainbow touches the earth.  God created the rainbow as a sign of his grace. Life is full of challenges, storms, and floods, often as consequences of…

Read more

Warnings

The captain of the Titanic was warned that there might be icebergs. President Lincoln was warned to not go out in public. Karl Wallenda was told to use a net. The builders of the Hindenburg were warned that filling it with hydrogen might blow up in their faces. Record producer Dick Rowe was warned to…

Read more

Late Bloomers

Noah was a late bloomer. He married at the age of 498 and lived to 950. He built the first ship to prepare for the first flood the world had ever known. A man of patience, it took Noah 120 years to complete the ark. At 440 feet in length, the boat was 1.5 times…

Read more

The Circus Is Still Here

An interesting study was conducted, which revealed the degree to which most of us overestimate our own abilities. Participants were given a series of words to spell. After the test, each person was asked how many words they thought they had spelled correctly. Several participants said they thought they had gotten 100 percent of the…

Read more

Digest Six Words

For centuries, theologians have debated the importance of two competing forces – God’s sovereignty and man’s free will. Most of us fall on one side of that or the other. This isn’t the space to debate reformed theology (although I’m happy to have that discussion another time). But I think we can all agree on…

Read more

The Key to Success

If you want to know where you will be in five years, take a look at the habits you practice every day right now. A man a lot smarter than me said, “The strength of a man’s virtue should be measured by his habitual acts” (Blaise Pascal). An extensive research project surveyed some of the…

Read more

Polygraph? Really?

I hear it a lot. “Why should I take a polygraph as part of my disclosure? My wife should just trust me.” Here’s my response. The nice police officer who pulls you over for swerving all over the road gives you a breathalyzer test. Why? Because he’d be foolish to take your word for it…

Read more

Fear God

Theophan the Recluse, a 19th-century Russian Orthodox, penned the following words: “Into every duty a God-fearing heart must be put, a heart constantly permeated by the thought of God; and this will be the door through which the soul will enter into active life. The essence is to be established in the remembrance of God,…

Read more

Worship

John Piper said, “Missions exist because worship doesn’t.” Anthropologists estimate that at least 18,000 different gods, goddesses, and various animals or objects have been worshiped by humans over history. Today, it is estimated that 80 percent of the global population considers themselves spiritual on some level. But that doesn’t always translate to biblical worship. Jesus…

Read more

Three Hours a Day

Anthony Hopkins said, “I have three weak spots – cookies, croissants, and laziness.” Let’s leave cookies and croissants for another day. Today, let’s talk about laziness. Prior to 1914, the average person worked 10 hours per day. With the Industrial Revolution, Henry Ford cut that down to eight hours a day, where it still stands…

Read more

Galileo

On this date in history, April 12, 1633, Galileo Galilei’s heresy trial began. The famed astronomer and physicist had the audacity to question established axioms such as the Ptolemaic belief that the sun revolved around the Earth. For that, he was found guilty of heresy and sentenced to life in prison. He was allowed to…

Read more

The Greatest

Muhammad Ali told anyone who would listen (and many who would not), “I’m the greatest.” You knew that. But here’s something you probably didn’t know. He started telling people that early in his career, before he really was the greatest. You have to believe it – and say it – before you can do it. …

Read more

Empty Glove

Imagine that you have two items on your kitchen table – a cup of coffee and an empty glove. You are thirsty, so what do you do? Try this. Tell the glove to pick up the coffee mug and lift it to your lips.  You probably know the likelihood of the empty glove performing this…

Read more

Chocolate Chip Study

In 1998, Case Western Reserve University conducted an interesting study on self-control. Participants were surrounded by fresh chocolate chip cookies but were told to resist the temptation and eat radishes instead. While they followed this directive, it took a toll. As their activities were monitored in the following hours, it was found that they lacked…

Read more

Core Beliefs

Patrick Carnes has identified four basic core beliefs of every sex addict: At the root of every addiction is an intimacy disorder. Usually, this manifests itself with insecurity and low self-esteem. Perhaps now is a good time to remind you of your identity in Christ. Celebrate the following. You are accepted (Romans 15:7), chosen (John…

Read more

P+P=A

I was the strange guy who enjoyed algebra in high school. I’ve always loved mathematics and formulas. So here’s a formula for you. What does it mean? P+P=A Your wait is over. These three letters represent the following: Problem + Powerlessness = Addiction. You can have a problem without it being an addiction. And you…

Read more

Nugget from Nouwen

Henri Nouwen wrote the following devotional, which I read recently. I want to share it with you in its entirety. May it bless you as much as it blessed me. “I am growing in the awareness that God wants my whole life, not just part of it. It is not enough to give just so…

Read more

Bicycle Face

Most things we fear never actually come to pass. For example, in the late 19th century, doctors warned women about a new disease called bicycle face. The theory was that when a woman rode a bicycle for an extended time, the facial expression they held throughout the ride would become permanent – flushed face, bulging…

Read more

Why We Do It

Are sex addicts the only people who bring trauma to the lives of those they love? Tony Campolo offered the following perspective: “Each of us comes into the world with a predisposition to inflict pain on those who love us the most.” This is confirmed by Scripture. “All have sinned and fallen short of the…

Read more

Desires

The word for today is – desire.  The Bible begins with a cautionary tale – before Adam ate the fruit, the fruit had eaten Adam. He was eaten up with desire.  Psychiatrist and philosopher Dr. Neel Burton says the problem with desires is perception. We desire more things (including sex) when we perceive we don’t…

Read more

Planting Gardens

“Plant gardens and eat what they produce” (Jeremiah 29:5). Let me translate that for you. If you want to enjoy a good recovery tomorrow, you need to do good recovery work today. If long-term sobriety sounds like a worthy goal, you need to plant a good garden today. Here are a few of the plants…

Read more

Bad News

I’ll admit it. My spiritual gift is worry. My team is ahead, but they’ll probably blow it. The stock market was up yesterday, but today it will probably crash. The tests said there was nothing wrong with me – yet. I’m like the guy who thinks that every time the football team goes into a…

Read more

New Glasses

I recently got a new pair of glasses. I can see clearly now. For those of you who have to squint to read this, you probably didn’t know that trees have leaves and those leaves change colors. But sometimes we see too much. I would argue that there might actually be too much news on…

Read more

Learning Pyramid

The Learning Pyramid offers some great wisdom for how to do successful recovery. Developed by educational theorist Edgar Dale, the conclusion is that people learn more effectively when they participate in the learning process. The first four layers of the pyramid are passive learning. In order from least effective to most effective, they are: lecture,…

Read more

Honus Wagner Card

Did you collect baseball cards as a kid? Are those cards boxed up in the attic? After reading this, you might want to take another look at those cards. One particular card could change your life. The T206 Honus Wagner card is considered the most valuable card ever produced, drawing as much as $10 million…

Read more

Real vs Rule

The Three Mile Island event took place 45 years ago today. On March 28, 1979, a pressure valve in the Unit 2 reactor at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania failed to close, triggering the worst accident in the history of the U.S. nuclear power industry. Although the accident at Three Mile Island had minuscule health…

Read more

GW + GT = GF

I hear these questions quite often: Let me offer a simple formula: GW + GT = GF. Start with God’s will. There are several ways you can know God’s will – through his Word, the counsel of others, the Holy Spirit, and the wisdom God promises. Then seek God’s timing. When we started There’s Still…

Read more

Incomplete Truth

There is a fascinating verse in the Book of Acts, which describes one of the early church leaders, an eloquent communicator named Apollos. The passage says, “He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John”…

Read more

The Wilderness

One day, a little girl was walking through the grocery store with her mother. The girl grabbed something off a shelf and said, “Mommy, mommy, let’s get this!” Her mother said, “No, honey. You have to cook that!” That is life in 2024. We want instant everything. The same applies to recovery. We want the…

Read more

Puzzling

My name is Mark and I’m a recovering dissectologist.  For those of you unfamiliar with this addiction, dissectology refers to a compulsive jigsaw puzzle disorder. In short, I love doing puzzles. I attained this passion as a kid, watching my mom do jigsaw puzzles. Mom is still considered one of the best left-handed dissectolotists of…

Read more

Punishing the Seas

Persian King Xerxes tried to build a bridge across the Dardanelles to get to Greece faster, but a storm destroyed the bridge. Infuriated with the sea, Xerxes ordered his soldiers to punish it by whipping it with chains 300 times and poking the water with red-hot irons. Handcuffs were also tossed into the water to…

Read more

Share a Glove

The story is told of a man walking down the street on a very cold day in a poor part of town. He saw two boys playing, neither of whom had gloves. So the man removed his wool gloves, then walked over and handed them to one of the boys. Almost immediately, the boy removed…

Read more

Plan, Plan, Plan

Dr. David Susman, clinical psychologist, has written a helpful article, “10 Keys to Recovery.” One of his keys to recovery is this: Develop a plan. Susman explains, “Without direction, it is impossible to get from Point A to Point B. Your plan should include action steps. It must be written down and it ought to…

Read more

The “P” Word

Let’s talk about the “P” word – purity. Charles Spurgeon said, “I would rather be holy and happy.” But it is not enough to maintain a pure lifestyle. Motive trumps actions.  Saint Augustine said, “God bestows more consideration on the purity of the intention with which our actions are performed than on the actions themselves.”…

Read more

Three Words that Count

Words matter. Don’t take my word for it. Consider the testimony of the wisest man who ever lived. Solomon said, “It is wonderful to say the right thing at the right time” (Proverbs 15:23). The average person speaks anywhere from 2,000 to 10,000 words a day, depending on which study you trust, and whether the…

Read more

Did You Know?

Things aren’t always what they appear. Did you know that Minnesota, the “land of 10,000 lakes,” actually has about 12,000 lakes? Meanwhile, neighboring Wisconsin has 15,000 lakes. Here are some other things you may not have realized.  There are a lot of things that may surprise you, even in the area of sex and addiction.…

Read more

Better Cook

One night, at the dinner table, the wife told her husband, “I remember when we were first married, you always took the smallest piece of steak and left me the largest piece. Now that we’ve been married for 25 years, you always take the larger piece of steak. You don’t love me anymore!” Her husband…

Read more

Tell Him!

One day Jesus encountered a blind man named Bartimaeus. Then he asked Bart what seemed to be a really strange question. “What is it that you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10:51). The man’s need was pretty obvious. He wanted to regain his sight. But Jesus didn’t put words in his mouth; he…

Read more

No Mere Mortals

You are special. We all are. C.S. Lewis wrote, “You have never talked to a mere mortal.” In the eyes of the Creator, you aren’t a “mere” anything.  In December, 1968, Apollo 8 orbited the moon ten times, looking for the perfect landing spot for a future mission. Astronaut Bill Anders took a picture of…

Read more

Remove Your Shoes

The French poet Jacques Reda had a habit of walking the streets of Paris with the intention of seeing something new every day. That is how he renewed his passion for the city he loved. It is important to renew your passion for the things you see every day. Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote, “Earth’s crammed…

Read more

Two Kinds of People

There are two kinds of people in the world – those who enter a crowded room thinking, “Here I am!” And those who enter a room thinking, “Here you are!” Which person are you?  This matters because our recovery is never complete until we help someone else with their recovery. We must learn to shift…

Read more

Unoffendable

Too many of us get too offended by too many people too much of the time. And that’s a problem, because when we are offended, we become stuck in our recovery.  Living in “offended” mode is indicative of a lack of forgiveness, and when you don’t forgive someone, you are letting those who hurt you…

Read more

Anxiety

Here’s the problem with anxiety. It always overestimates our problems and underestimates our resources. Jesus said, “Do not worry about your life” (Matthew 6:25. He followed that up with, “Do not worry about tomorrow” (Matthew 6:34). Clearly, Jesus was opposed to anxiety.  In some cases, anxiety must be treated clinically. But in most cases, we…

Read more

Four Days

Day 1 – A man walked down a street and fell in a hole. Day 2 – The man walked down the street, saw the hole, but slipped into the hole. Day 3 – The man walked down the street, tried to avoid the hole, but was bumped by someone else and stumbled into the…

Read more

The Freezing Water Experiment

In their book, The Power of Moments, Chip and Dan Health describe a fascinating experiment in which participants agreed to subject themselves to painful trials. First, they submerged their hands into a bucket filled with cold, 57-degree water for 60 seconds.  In the second trial, the time was increased by 30 seconds. For the first…

Read more

Dwell in Possibility

By all accounts, Emily Dickinson was a recluse. The famous poet rarely left home. She maintained her few friendships by writing cards back and forth. Still, she found a way to make a difference. Emily Dickinson left her mark – leaving 1,800 poems behind. Among these poems you will find one of the most powerful…

Read more

The Right Time

“Jesus came at just the right time” (Romans 5:6). Timing is everything. Yogi Berra said, “You don’t have to swing hard to hit a home run. If you got the timing, it’ll go.” And Buzz Aldrin said, “Timing has always been a key element in my life. I have been blessed to have been in…

Read more

Time to Move On

We get stuck. That is human nature. It happens to us today, just as it happened in the days of Moses. At a time when his people were crippled by fear and crushed by frustration, God said it was time to get moving.  “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Why are you crying out to…

Read more

It’s Possible

Chris Norton broke his neck while playing college football. He was given a three percent chance of ever moving again. Norton didn’t get sad; he got mad. After months of hard work, he wiggled a toe. Eventually, he was able to get up out of his wheelchair and walk seven feet – down the wedding…

Read more

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

Voice Recorder

How would you like for every word you have ever spoken to be played back for all your world to hear? Francis Schaeffer once said that if every word we have ever spoken could be played back by a huge recorder, the whole world would go into hiding. From the days of Shakespeare, we have…

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

Talk to Your Mountain

If you haven’t read the Book of Zechariah in a while, you missed this gem from God’s Word. “What are you, mighty mountain?” (Zechariah 4:7). When was the last time you talked to your mountain? Mountains represent huge challenges which God intends us to overcome. That’s why I have the following hanging on my wall:…

Read more

One at a Time

Do you want to accomplish something huge? Something that you only dreamed of before? Something that will change everything? Then keep reading. This is your roadmap for success. You get in shape one day at a time. You get out of debt one dollar at a time. You run a marathon one mile at a…

Read more

The Power of a Kite

In 1847, a civil engineer named Charles Ellet was hired to build a bridge over the Niagara Gorge, an 825-foot chasm. He enlisted the help of a 15-year-old boy, Homan Walsh. Homan flew his kite from one side to the other. The day after the successful kite flight, a stronger line was attached to that…

Read more

Answer the Door

Saint Benedict started 12 monasteries, including Monte Cassino, where he often went to write. It was there that he penned the Rules of Saint Benedict, containing 73 chapters. One of his rules was this: “If you are fasting, and someone visits you, end your fast and eat with your guest.” The need for connection cannot…

Read more

397-Pound Marathoner

Gerald Schattle tipped the scales at a robust 397 pounds when he made the unexpected decision to run a marathon. His doctors ordered him to lose 100 pounds before his training could begin. Against all odds, he eventually completed a marathon. He didn’t set any speed records, but for him, finishing was the goal. Gerald…

Read more

The Longest Kick

On September 26, 2021, Justin Tucker set the NFL record for the longest field goal in history, with a 66-yard kick for the Baltimore Ravens against the Detroit Lions. But as incredible as that feat was, it pales in comparison to what happened at Shotwell Stadium in Abilene, Texas, on October 16, 1976.  Abilene Christian…

Read more

Change Is Inevitable

“Put off your old self” (Ephesians 4:22). Change is a part of recovery. Any progress is tied to our willingness to change. Let’s turn to three pretty smart guys for more inspiration on the value of change. Jack Welch said, “Change before you have to.” Don’t wait until your addiction buries you. The best time…

Read more

Don’t Ever Do This!

In about 760 B.C., a prophet in Judah said something that every recovering addict needs to hear. “Woe to you who are complacent” (Amos 6:1). Never, ever take your sobriety for granted. Never, ever, ever, ever. Don’t do it. Never.  There will be days when you think you’ve “got this,” you can take your foot…

Read more

A Half Worm

Let me give you something to ponder today. What is the only thing worse than finding a worm in an apple? Answer: finding half a worm in an apple and wondering where the other half is. It only takes half a worm for most people to step away from the apple. The fact that a…

Read more

Plans

“Woe to those who go to great depths to hide their plans from the Lord” (Isaiah 29:15). When we were children, my brother and I loved to play hide-and-seek with our Dad. We would run and hide somewhere while Dad counted to 20, and then he’d come looking for us. Somehow, we thought that if…

Read more

Call for Backup

A young man decided to join the police force. As a recruit, he was asked during the exam, “What would you do if you had to arrest your own mother?” He answered, “Call for backup.” We all need to call for backup from time to time. We weren’t created to do life – let alone…

Read more

Valentine’s Day

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). Ten Valentine’s gifts you…

Read more

Grace Community Chapel

Joe Gilmore, of the Gratitude Lodge, wrote an article titled, “Seven Common Addiction Recovery Mistakes and How to Avoid Them.” He says the most common mistake is thinking you can do it alone. He writes, “A recovery journey requires a positive mindset. You must surround yourself with a supportive community.” Paul said it like this:…

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

100-Mile Run

Oleg Kharitonov set a new world record when he ran 100 miles in 11:28:03. I’m not sure I could drive 100 miles that fast. Quite impressive. The next time you run a marathon, remember Oleg, who essentially ran four marathons without a break. I say it again – quite impressive. Oleg is clearly a gifted…

Read more

Lesson from Uzziah

Never judge your success by immediate results. Recovery is about planting seeds today that will grow tomorrow and bear fruit after that. Don’t expect an overnight experience of the full serenity, sobriety, and success that will come from years of doing the right thing – one day at a time.  Dr. Paul Chappell, senior pastor…

Read more

Who You Are

If you want to know who you really are, look around you. Take note of the people you spend the most time with, the ones to whom you are the closest. Jim Rohn said it like this: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” A Portuguese proverb says,…

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

Recovery Bullies

No one likes to get picked on. I know I never did. Throughout the 7th grade, a bully made a habit of taking my lunch money on my walk to school. This went on for months, until I finally stood up to her. I’ve witnessed spiritual bullying, as well. And recovery bullying. I actually had…

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