Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Galatians 2:20

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (NIV)

Like myself, he had admitted complete defeat. Then he had, in effect, been raised from the dead, suddenly taken from the scrap heap to a level of life better than the best he had ever known! (Alcoholics Anonymous, page 11)

Throw in the towel, I'm done. 
It's okay, though. 
I'm not the star, just the understudy.
I'm here, ready to be of service
but when I stand back and watch,
when I just take orders
and do my best,
excellence happens
and I bask in it,
a part of it, 
the beneficiary,
but blown away
by the results.

I can't believe what a work or art
you can craft 
from the raw material
that is me.

Galatians 2:19

It was the Law itself that killed me and freed me from its power, so that I could live for God.
I have been nailed to the cross with Christ. (CEV)

Above everything, we alcoholics must be rid of this selfishness. We must, or it kills us! God makes that possible. (Alcoholics Anonymous, page 62)

I've tried all these years
over and over again
didn't work.
Why should I trust it to work now?
Do I relish guilt,
savor shame,
revel in remorse?
Emphatically not!
Why, then, should I persist,
why try harder when I know
I could not before have done more
than I did, at least briefly...
I'm incompetent, powerless,
unable to manage my life,
my responsibilities.
It's time to toss my pride in the rag pile
and allow the results
even if I can't claim

God, thank you!
I don't have to be

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Galatians 2:17-18

Now if, as we seek the real truth about justification, we find we are as much sinners as the Gentiles, does that mean that Christ makes us sinners? Of course not! But if I attempt to build again the whole structure of justification by the Law then I do, in earnest, make myself a sinner. (Phillips)

It is easy to let up on the spiritual program of action and rest on our laurels. We are headed for trouble if we do, for alcohol is a subtle foe. We are not cured of alcoholism. What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition. (Alcoholics Anonymous, page 85)

Out of alignment
I reclaim my course,
tried, proven untrue,
but so logical, so cogent, so clear.
And so wrong.
Of myself I am nothing.
I become something only when
abandoning myself
I yield to God, to a higher will
a greater good
to the real truth.
The gifts received, recovery gained,
persist conditionally
dependent on my choice
of acceptance or rejection
each this day.

I give up, God.
I still can't run my life.
It's in your hands.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Galatians 2:15-16

“We are Jews by nature and not sinners from among the Gentiles; nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified..." (NASB)

"...I knew from that moment that I had an alcoholic mind. I saw that will power and self-knowledge would not help in those strange mental blank spots. I had never been able to understand people who said that a problem had them hopelessly defeated. I knew then. It was a crushing blow." (Alcoholics Anonymous, page 42)

Can't be done.
Never in a million years —
I know because I tried a million times.
It's no more my nature to be good
than it's to be expected
those monkeys can type
Shakespeare's writings.
But those "in the know"
call the monkey-feat
the mathematical term "almost surely."
In a pig's eye.
In God's hands.

I can't, God.
But you can.
If I turn lose, you will.
Won't you?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Self Worth

Humility is just a correct understanding of your own self worth.

Nearly a century ago, my Sunday school teacher was Mary Hoffeinz, a dear woman teaching the college class across the street from a United Methodist college where her husband was my New Testament professor. I remember Mary most clearly for two truisms. She didn't like singing the chorus of the hymn "Are Ye Able?" After verses like this:
“Are ye able,” said the Master,
“To be crucified with Me?”
“Yea,” the sturdy dreamers answered,
“To the death we follow Thee.”
we were to sing this:
Lord, we are able. Our spirits are Thine.
Remold them, make us, like Thee, divine.
Thy guiding radiance above us shall be
A beacon to God, to love and loyalty.
Mary was quite sure this was pure braggadociousness, that we were no more able than the disciples. Normally she stood in mute protest during the whole song. When that seemed inappropriate under rare circumstances, it became the prayer, "Lord, make us able!"

I also recall her mantra that too many people are continually being born again and never grow up.

Looking back from the perspective of Recovery, I interpret her to say something consistent with, "Live so you don't have to keep doing inventories, Fifth steps, and amends. In other words, work steps Ten, Eleven and Twelve daily, and it's the equivalent of not being born again and again."

Galatians 2:14

When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?..." (NIV)

Above everything, we alcoholics must be rid of this selfishness. We must, or it kills us! (Alcoholics Anonymous, page 62)

It is important for him to realize that your attempt to pass this on to him plays a vital part in your own recovery. Actually, he may be helping you more than you are helping him. (Alcoholics Anonymous, page 94)

Pretender! Phony!
A sanctimonious sham!
Was Peter deceitful?
Are we all when we claim
to disown selfishness
but recruit for our own benefit?
Others may be – it's not my concern.
What matters is my fraud,
writing such truths when mostly
they're to tutor me,
to school me in my own deceits.
I hear myself share what I wish to be true,
what I strive to receive,
what I know awaits me
when at long last
I lay down my piety
and finally figure out

Forgive me my hypocrisy, God.
Please give me true faith.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Galatians 2:13

As a result, other Jewish Christians followed Peter’s hypocrisy, and even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. (NLT)

I fancied myself a leader, for had not the men of my battery given me a special token of appreciation? My talent for leadership, I imagined, would place me at the head of vast enterprises which I would manage with the utmost assurance. (Alcoholics Anonymous, page 1)

Managing with the utmost assurance —
yep, rings true, I've been there.
Peter, simple fisherman transformed 
to key carrier, not just for a meeting
but to the kingdom all in a few short years.
How fearful he must have been,
how often. 
Do I need a report from his POV?
No. No need to take his inventory,
just mine.
When I find myself a leader
by vote of peers or default, 
my responsibility lies not
in keeping waters calm
but in being qualified to lead,
allowing that to come from 
a power far greater than I, 
and seeking daily the power's directive
the will and courage
to lead there.

God, I offer myself.
While I'd prefer anonymity,
I'm willing to yield
to your plan.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Galatians 2:11-12

When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. (NIV)

For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority—a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern. (Alcoholics Anonymous, Tradition Two)

Tough call, leaving trivial behind.
Hard job to set aside old prejudice,
see people as people —
not as Jew or Gentile,
not male, female, old, young,
hale, infirm, addict, "normie,"
straight, gay, citizen, stranger.
If behavior stands up, rings true
before God,
why censor it
before disapproving others?
Who is a leader?
One who talks, influences, coerces?
Or one who takes the high road,
the ethical path
no matter what vocal others think?

God, when you show me right,
walk with me,
shoving me in right direction
when you must
but hopefully filling me with
conviction replacing fears.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Galatians 2:10

All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along. (NIV)

Our next function is to grow in understanding and effectiveness. This is not an overnight matter. It should continue for our lifetime. Continue to watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear. (Alcoholics Anonymous, page 84)

Keep on keeping on. 
Do good, do the next right thing.
Repeat again.
Habits are made of repetition,
patterns are woven of row upon row
of same same.
Tradition is habits and patterns passed,
spread, adopted as norm, as right.
Yet practices change, customs evolve
and right can morph to wrong
unnoticed, undeterred.
carry on
consciously, intentionally,
holding on to good,
to the next right thing.

God, I can carry on
one hour,
one day,
diligent in doing what I know is right.
Make it true, Lord,
make it true.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Galatians 2:9

James, Cephas and John, those esteemed as pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the circumcised. (NIV)

All sections of this country and many of its occupations are represented, as well as many political, economic, social, and religious backgrounds. We are people who normally would not mix. But there exists among us a fellowship, a friendliness, and an understanding which is indescribably wonderful. (Alcoholics Anonymous, page 17)

Gentile, Hebrew,
stock speculator, proctologist,
white collar, blue collar, skid row bum.
Colleagues sharing interest
in good news,
a loving god,
a supportive community
contributing, involved in
recovery for self and others, knowing
all are bundled. Each gains momentum,
power, velocity, veracity
from his fellows'.
Republican, Democrat, Libertarian,
fierce partisan positions mean nothing,
remain unspoken
in light of even-more-integral,
more essential matters.
Shared recovery,

God, thanks for essentials
that can place lesser matters
in proper perspective.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Galatians 2:7-8

On the contrary, they recognized that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised. For God, who was at work in Peter as an apostle to the circumcised, was also at work in me as an apostle to the Gentiles. (NIV)

When you discover a prospect for Alcoholics Anonymous, find out all you can about him. If he does not want to stop drinking, don't waste time trying to persuade him. You may spoil a later opportunity. This advice is given for his family also. They should be patient, realizing they are dealing with a sick person. (Alcoholics Anonymous, page 90)

Who cares who carries the message
so long as the carrying is done?
Well, I must admit to the lingering conviction
a message not channelled through me
must of necessity be inferior.
What if explanations lack the pertinence,
applicability, feel irrelevant?
Who will invigorate the word,
encapsulate Nirvana?
So, what makes me believe in me but my arrogance,
my ego?
It's not my message to carry.
I am a tool, available for use
in building.
My bondage to self, my difficulties 
are removed, and victory over them
may humiliate me 
be the message to be carried.

God, who cares who carries the message?
Let be true I don't.
Let me be willing
to be humbled
and used.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Galatians 2:6

As for those who were held in high esteem — whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not show favoritism — they added nothing to my message. (NIV)

An alcoholic who has recovered, but holds a relatively unimportant job, can talk to a man with a better position. Being on a radically different basis of life, he will never take advantage of the situation. (Alcoholics Anonymous: the "Big Book," Kindle Locations 1861-1862, "To Employers")

Wisdom has nothing to do
with intelligence, education.
Recovery doesn't come by degrees
made up of letters and periods.
Intelligent we are in many respects
but insane – lunatics —
where addiction is involved.
certain simple things,
commence on a simpler level, 
follow a few simple rules.
Simple, not easy, achieved only
with the destruction of
Then comes wisdom,
when intelligence, education, 
experience have become tools
of simplicity.

God, please block my smarts
until I grasp simplicity.

Galatians 2:4-5

This matter arose because some false believers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. (NIV)

Soon A.A. was beset by these very problems on every side and in every group. But out of this frightening and at first disrupting experience the conviction grew that A.A.’s had to hang together or die separately. We had to unify our Fellowship or pass off the scene. (Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book Kindle Locations 97-99, foreword to the second edition.)

Holding on to truth, holding out for purity
staying the course
without apostasy.
Truth wields a mighty sword, impervious, 
yet truth can fall to insidious mutation,
to good intentions, to obfuscating clarification.
A good thing, a godly thing, a god thing 
we have here.
God knows how we can keep it!

God, save us from the conviction 
we can always tweak
something for the better.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Galatians 2:3

And they supported me and did not even demand that my companion Titus be circumcised, though he was a Gentile. (NLT)

He may demand that the family find God in a hurry, or exhibit amazing indifference to them and say he is above worldly considerations. He may tell mother, who has been religious all her life, that she doesn't know what it's all about, and that she had better get his brand of spirituality while there is yet time. (Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 128)

Running the show,
setting the rules,
 being in charge,
taking command.
This is how recovery works,
and you better do it right.
They are suggestions, not commands.
It's how we did it,
how many have found recovery
but you may find a different
road to the same place.
This one works for me.
I love you and hope you find
a path as right for you
as I have found for me.

God, let me understand
I'm not in control.
Help me to do your will
and be open to it differing
from what I think it is.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Galatians 2:1-2

Then fourteen years later I went back to Jerusalem again, this time with Barnabas; and Titus came along, too. I went there because God revealed to me that I should go. While I was there I met privately with those considered to be leaders of the church and shared with them the message I had been preaching to the Gentiles. I wanted to make sure that we were in agreement, for fear that all my efforts had been wasted and I was running the race for nothing. (NLT)

Nothing would please us so much as to write a book which would contain no basis for contention or argument. We shall do our utmost to achieve that ideal. (Alcoholics Anonymous, page 19)

United, a common front,
of one mind.
We are a diverse group,
people who would not ordinarily mix
yet there's a friendliness,
a fellowship,
an understanding
uniting us,
divergent people
facing a common problem,
a problem so huge,
so overwhelming,
so devastating
difference makes no difference.

God, in recovery
I'm no longer different,
no longer alone,
among friends I've never met,
in the in-crowd. Thanks.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Galatians 1:21-24

Then I went to Syria and Cilicia. I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” And they praised God because of me. (NIV)

After several failures to find others, a fourth turned up. He came through an acquaintance who had heard the good news. (Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 158)

Our reputation precedes us,
follows us,
defines us among people we'll never meet.
What do they say of us?
Does it matter?
"What you think of me
is none of my business."
But is it really true?
Does it matter what people say?
What if they say it about me
as a member of the fellowship?
What if my behavior
is the only view some people have
of the rooms?
Do they stay away,
not wanting what we have?
Do they praise God
because of me?

God, let me be an instrument
of your peace.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Galatians 1:18-20

Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days. I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother. I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie. (NIV)

We are greatly indebted to the doctor in attendance there, for he, although it might prejudice his own work, has told us of his belief in ours. (Alcoholics Anonymous, page 162)

Older, wiser,
or at least more experienced.
We're not alone,
not required to rely
on ourselves,
to look to God and no human.
More will be revealed,
not only through prayer and meditation.
Revelation comes through folk
of all ilk,
not just older, wiser.
Sometimes through fools,
though the mouths of babes. 
God can use anybody —
especially when I'm convinced
I'm better, smarter, more advanced
than God's chosen.

God, thanks for lessons,
both the content and
the messenger.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Galatians 1:15-17

But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went away to Arabia, and returned once more to Damascus. (NASB)

Returning home we find a place where we can be quiet for an hour, carefully reviewing what we have done. We thank God from the bottom of our heart that we know Him better. (Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 75)

God with me,
coming back home
where I've never been before.
God with me,
Who would have thought
he'd single me out,
talk to me,
be with me
What peace, what love,
what serenity, joy, glory.
What am I, who am I
that God could love me

God, I thank you
from the bottom of my heart,
the depths of my soul,
the fulness of me being.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Galatians 1:13-14

For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. (NIV)

Renewing my resolve, I tried again. Some time passed, and confidence began to be replaced by cock-sureness. I could laugh at the gin mills. Now I had what it takes! (Alcoholics Anonymous, pp. 5-6)

I'm in control,
hear me roar!
Stand aside and see me,
watch what I can do.
Step back,
I don't need you.
Can't you see it's a complex whole,
that ceding power causes seams?
It's not arrogance if you're right!
You know I do it well!
I'm in control.

God, I need to know
I'm out of control
when you're not really
the one who's
in control.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Galatians 1:12

For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. (KJV)

With few exceptions our members find that they have tapped an unsuspected inner resource which they presently identify with their own conception of a Power greater than themselves. (Alcoholics Anonymous, Spiritual Experience appendix)

All around me,
voices knowing better,
people more experienced,
others who've walked
this path before,
and they may be messengers,
 a mouthpiece for God,
but I know if I miss the point
in a group, or studying alone, hope's there,
help's there,
guides may lead me
step by step
toward the right direction.
Sometimes God speaks through them.
Other times, they're giving advice,
not really working program,
not in sync
with God.
When I've listened long enough,
I recognize his voice,
hear his message.
But I need not wait.
He's ready for me, any time.

God, protect me from leaving the path
you're trying to send me along
no matter who speaks 
for you.
Remind me you don't need