Thursday, July 06, 2006

Good Stuff, God Stuff

I have been participating since May (along with two others from West Houston) in training for the Restore ministry that is set to launch in our area this fall. Restore is a partnership ministry between the YMCA and local churches (begun in Nashville and recently spawned here) which uses the 12-Step program as a tool to help people overcome “life-controlling issues” (note: this is different from, and broader than, the specific addictions that “pure” 12-step groups address, and thus not in competition with them). Restore places a particular emphasis on naming the “higher power” as God, acknowledging Christ as Lord, and yielding to the work of the Holy Spirit. It has been extremely fruitful in the middle Tennessee area.

One of the things I am learning is the nature and power of the 12 Steps themselves. There is an intricate and purposeful order in their arrangement:

#1: We admitted we were powerless over our human condition-that our lives had become unmanageable. #2 Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. #3 Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

These first three steps are about making peace with God, which precedes all else. People are invited to take Step #3 by inviting Jesus Christ to be their Lord and walking with Him in their life.

#4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. #5 Admitted to God, to us, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. #6: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. #7 Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

These four steps are about making peace with ourselves. Let me tell you, it is quite an adventure to make a “searching and fearless moral inventory” and then to share that with someone else. But it is a powerful step to becoming transparent, authentic, humble, and most notably, free.

#8 Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all. #9 Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. #10 continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

These two steps are about making peace with others. It is part of the process of allowing God to penetrate and redeem all of our life through addressing and healing old wounds.

#11 Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for the knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. #12 Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

These final two steps are about growing in our relationship with God and sharing the message with others. My group of seven men is at step #6, so we have a ways to go, but it is not hard for me to see why this process has been so helpful for millions of people. These steps work in tandem with the small group dynamic to create a bond of fellowship, friendship and accountability. It’s good stuff. It’s God stuff.


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