I recommend taking a look at this article if you are concerned about suicidal thoughts coming out of addiction problems – either for yourself or for someone you care about.
Join us for a phone meeting of Bible-themed addiction recovery. Using an AA meeting template, we will base our discussion on the daily meditation taken from the book “For I Will Be With You.” It’s free and anonymous, but you can sign up for email reminders here.
When: Wednesdays at 12 noon, east coast time.
Dial in: (712) 775-7100
ADD TO YOUR CALENDAR: Sober Devotional Phone Meeting
Exodus 31:1 – 31:4 – “God spoke to Moses, saying: ‘See, I have called by the name: Bezalel son or Uri, son or Hur, of the tribe of Judah. I have filled him with a Godly spirit, with wisdom, insight and knowledge, and with every craft, to weave designs, to work with gold, silver, and copper, stone-cutting for setting, and wood-carving – to perform every craft.’”
Bezalel is the artist/craftsman who built the Tabernacle. Imagine that one man could have all the artistic talent and craft skills to be entrusted to build a house for God. And, consider that such a man had been, up until a few months earlier, a slave. How did he learn all of this? And, what’s truly amazing is that, according to the Commentators, Bezalel wasn’t even a man. He was 13-year-old boy! The answer to, “How is this possible?” is that God “filled him” with those abilities. What talents can God fill us with, if we seek God? We’ve probably all seen the phenomenon of a person blossoming creatively after becoming sober. It’s a remarkable experience to see someone whose life had consisted of, say, hanging around bars all day, suddenly emerge in sobriety and become an award-winning photographer or published author. Where did all of that come from? I think there are two answers. At one level, the talent was already there, but dormant, silenced by addiction. Secondly, God “fills” that person with the talents or works to bring them to the surface. If you seek God, God may fill you with talents that you didn’t know you had.
This is a recording of an inspirational teleseminar that discusses the Book of Genesis through the lens of 12 step addiction recovery, including:
Step 1 – How our powerlessness over alcohol affected our ability to experience and participate in the universe that God created.
Step 2 – How Adam and Eve hiding from God in the Garden of Eden can help us understand how a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
Step 3 – How Noah turned his life over to the care of God in the Ark.
Step 4 – What we can learn from the quarrel between Abraham and Lot’s shepherds.
About the Speaker: Boruch Binyamin is the pen name of a 51 year old religious Jewish man who has been staying sober in Alcoholics Anonymous for 15 years. He wrote the full-length version of this book, For I Will Be With You, to connect the wisdom of The Torah – the first five books of The Bible – with the principles of AA addiction recovery. Going from Genesis 1:1 through the end of Deuteronomy, the book offers a Biblical verse and its connection to sober concepts for each day of the year. Each daily reflection is intended to give the reader a way to think about the practices of 12 step recovery programs in the context of the Bible.
All attendees will receive a free eBook of daily reflections from the Book of Genesis. (OR a free printed booklet version)
Exodus 28:2 – “You shall make vestments of sanctity for Aaron your brother, for glory and splendor.”
The Priest wore a beautiful, elaborate outfit when he performed the special services to God in the Tabernacle. One of the purposes of the Priest’s outfit was to imbue the Priest with “glory and splendor.” This should make us think about the glory and splendor we can achieve through the service of God. It elevates us and wraps us in glorious, splendid “robes” – conscious contact with God is a glorious experience. We should seek it and cherish it in recovery. The glorious feeling fills those holes in our souls that we used to fill with addiction.
What’s also interesting about this verse is the detail that Moses himself is asked to make the vestments. Really? Yes, Moses himself had to sew the garments. There’s a huge lesson in humility here that we can all learn from in recovery. Moses was at once the greatest prophet in Jewish history and the most humble man who ever lived. Oh, that addicts could think this way. Sometimes, of course, you see it. In Los Angeles, it’s routine to see multi-millionaire movie producers, rock stars and Oscar winners sitting quietly at meetings, waiting for a turn to speak and listening carefully to the opinions of people of quite different stations in life. That’s the kind of humility you need to attain sobriety. Moses had no problem sewing clothes for his brother, even though his brother was theoretically beneath him in the leadership. That’s what people with serious God consciousness do. They’re humble.
Exodus 21:24 – “…an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, a foot for a foot…”
This is one of the most famous, and most famously misunderstood, phrases in the entire Bible. Understanding the difference between what “an eye for an eye” really means, as opposed to what a lot of people think it means, can teach us a lot about sobriety and recovery. A lot of people think “an eye for an eye” is about revenge. If someone pokes you in the eye, poke them in the eye, and so forth. Get even! But, curiously, it is not about that at all. “An eye for an eye” is a formula for civil damages, meaning if someone harms you to the tune of $20, they owe you $20. It’s a profound difference, when viewed from the perspective of recovery. For many of us, addictive behavior is fueled by feelings of revenge and resentment, the wanting to gauge out the eyes of someone who hurt us. True recovery and sobriety occurs, however, when you are ready to pay damages yourself, to make amends to people you have harmed. If you took $20, pay back $20. Do it. You’ll feel a lot better about yourself and you will be building your sobriety. That’s the true meaning of “an eye for an eye.”
Bible-Themed Addiction Recovery for the week of April 17
Exodus 13:17 – “And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not by the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said: ‘Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt.’”
God understood that the Israelites, so recently freed from slavery, might not be able to handle an abrupt confrontation with the Philistines that could result from taking a direct route from Egypt to the Land of Israel. This part of the Exodus story is rich with symbolism for our daily lives and struggle with recovery and addiction. We can learn from this verse that sometimes, it is wise to take an indirect approach to our worst problems, take baby steps and build our strength. If we take the plunge prematurely, we may suffer a backlash and find ourselves in worse trouble than before we started. For example, let’s say you drank over resentment that you felt you were owed a raise at work. Then, newly sober, you decide to barge into your boss’s office and demand a raise – that would not be good sober behavior. The result, in fact, might be a reaction that could lead you right back to the bottle. Instead, a wise approach might be to carefully plan a request for a raise, working with a sponsor to understand the most effective way to approach the situation. Or, perhaps even more importantly, learn to trust God to guide you on the right path to confronting the problem. This is the lesson of Exodus 13:17.
Bible -Themed Addiction Recovery for the Week of April 10th
Exodus 10:7 – “And Pharaoh’s servants said unto him: ‘How long shall this man be a snare unto us? Let the men go, that they may serve the Lord their God, knowest thou not yet that Egypt is destroyed?’”
The people surrounding Pharaoh grow weary of the incessant plagues and the inability of their leader to grasp what is really going on. “How long shall this man be a snare unto us?” they ask Pharaoh. The answer, evidently, was “forever.” If you have ever lived through a loved one’s addiction, this syndrome may be sadly familiar. The addict will continue to pursue his or her way of solving problems no matter how disastrous the results. We may plead with the addict, “How long can you go on like this?” and the answer always seems to be “forever.” There is no changing an addict’s mind, until some kind of bottom is reached. Often, that is too late, for bottoms may result in divorce, incarceration, or death. The correct answer to, “How long shall this man be a snare?” or “How long will you continue with your insanity?” should be, “Until I recognize that God has a plan for me and I am not following it.” It is only when we surrender, and accept that God has a plan for us, and that our plan is not the way to solve our problems, that we will begin to experience sobriety and serenity. And, for those loved ones close to us who pray for us to change, the surrender will be the only way to help them get the serenity that they want as well.
Exodus 7:13 – “And Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he hearkened not unto them; as the Lord had spoken.”
Daily reflection on recovery, taken from the Bible, for the week of April 3rd. (From the book “For I Will Be With You: Daily Reflections on Recovery from the Bible“)
Pharaoh acts like an alcoholic. No matter how bad things get, he doesn’t listen. Like an alcoholic who will not admit that he has a problem, even after the kind of unceasing series of disasters that only an alcoholic can experience, Pharaoh will not change his mind. His heart is hardened. Of course, God hardens Pharaoh’s heart too, but it was a pretty hard heart to begin with.
This verse can open our eyes to the ways that addiction destroys our lives through the power of denial. How many wrecked cars, arrests, divorces, arguments, job losses, and so on, will it take before our hearts become less hardened to the reality of our addiction? Like Pharaoh, we have all white knuckled our way through crisis after crisis, blaming others for our problems and refusing to acknowledge the truth – that we are the ones at fault. This verse tells us to wake up and soften our hearts, to hear the truth at long last.
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The new Pharaoh did not know Joseph, nor did he understand how Joseph had saved the kingdom from famine. The assumption we make is that if he had known about Joseph, he would not have enslaved the Israelites out of fear of their potential disloyalty. To him, the Israelites were merely a threatening group of foreigners, not the descendants of a great man who had, if nothing else, greatly enriched the house of Pharaoh. In recovery, we can probably identify with both Pharaoh and the Israelites in this part of the story. When we are drinking and using, we often conveniently “forget” those people who have contributed to our success and well-being and associate instead with new, downward companions. We may even lash out and try to destroy friends and family who care about us because they are interfering with our addictive drives. On the flip side, our behavior may cause those who cared about us in the past to “forget” about us. Like the Israelites in the story, we may get burned by people we thought were our friends, though perhaps it is due to our own actions. Finally, this verse should remind us that it is dangerous for us to place too much importance on the goodwill of other people to assure our recovery. Only God has the ultimate power to help us in recovery. If we place our faith in God and pray for recovery, then it will not matter if the people in our lives forget who we are.
Excerpted from “For I Will Be With You: Daily Reflections on Recovery from the Bible.”
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