Archive | July, 2012

HOW TO PLAY “AA BS BINGO” – It’s fun!

30 Jul

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Do you keep falling asleep in meetings? What about those long and boring drinking stories? The ‘Anda’s’ getting to you? You know . . . “My name is John and I’m an alcoholic ‘ANDA’ addict”? Are you getting tired of the same old sloganeering, POP-AA psychobabble having nothing to do with AA and those never ending Treatment Center ideas having NOTHING to do with the AA Program detailed in the Big Book? Or how about members who continuously bring up the same personal problems over and over and over – the same defects – the same painful relationships – some for months and years on end? They NEVER seem to get any of the results promised in the Big Book – do they?

Here’s a way to change all that…

1. Before (or during) your next meeting, prepare yourself by drawing a square. I find that 5″ x 5″ is a good size. Divide the card into columns-five across and five down. That will give you 25 one-inch blocks.

2. Write one of the following word/phrases in each block:
1. Issues
2. Inner-child
3. Living Amends
4. Meaningful Relationship
5. Didn’t Mean to Drink/Use
6. I’m Stuck On Step____
7. Couldn’t Find A Meeting
8. Can’t change
9. Won’t change
10. Yeah But
11.Oh, The Pain
12. But…. Don’t you think
13. Misunderstood
14. Never
15. According to the 12 & 12
16. Recovering Person
17. Searching (as in, “for answers”)
18. Gonna (sometimes prefaced with, “I’m”)
19. Been thinking (sometimes prefaced with, “I’ve”)
20. For me____________.
21. “I know what it is I need to do but…”
22. Dysfunctional
23. I heard
24. Road Rage
25. I don’t know much about this, but…

3. Check off the appropriate block when you hear one of those words or phrases.

4. When you get five blocks horizontally, vertically, or diagonally, stand up and shout “BULLSHIT!”

TESTIMONIALS FROM SATISFIED “AA BULLSHIT BINGO” PLAYERS:–“I had been in the meeting for only five minutes when I won.”Adam W., Atlanta–“My attention span at meetings has improved dramatically.”David T., Tampa–“What a gas! Meetings will never be the same for me after my firstwin.” Dan J., NY City–“The atmosphere was tense in the last “Gratitude” meeting as 14 of uswaited for the fifth box. ” Ben G., Denver–“The speaker was stunned as eight of us screamed out “BULLSHIT” for thethird time in 20 minutes.” Carnie Joe, MiamiPlay “AA Bullshit Bingo” at your next meeting!

“The Twelve Traditions ensure the unity of the Fellowship… The “12 Traditions” of Alcoholics Anonymous are, we A.A.’s believe, the best answers that our experience has yet given to those ever-urgent questions, “How can A.A. best function?” and, “How can A.A. best stay whole and so survive?” Big Book Appendix i

28 Jul

12 TRADITION AFFIRMATIONS

I’ve found that just as applying the 12 Steps in, as the Big Book says, “A much more important demonstration of our principles lies before us in our respective homes, occupations and affairs.”(BB pg 19) I’ve found that by applying the 12 Traditions in these areas to be one of the greatest demonstrations of spiritual principles and miracles in my life! I strongly advise anyone who has worked the 12 Steps to go to the next level of their Spiritual development by applying the 12 Traditions.

Below are 12 affirmations that I try to keep in mind as the guiding spiritual principle behind each Tradition.

Tradition One Affirmation– Let me remember that my fulfillment, love, joy and forgiveness come through my sharing and joining with others in our common welfare.

Tradition Two Affirmation- Let me remember that God, as we understand Him, is our only True Source, that we are His children, His agents, His individual expressions, and that we have come together for His purpose. Even now He is guiding and directing us.

Tradition Three Affirmation- Let me remember that out of enlightened self-interest I want and I choose to share all I can with whomever He brings.

Tradition Four Affirmation- Let me remember that the one(s) I am sharing with and myself must come to our own decisions or agreements but not at anyone else’s expense.

Tradition Five Affirmation- Let me remember that as an individual God created, we all have a special message to share. Joined with those we are drawn to, the sharing of this message is our primary purpose.

Tradition Six Affirmation – Let me remember that we ought never try to share our special message with those for whom it is not intended nor endorse or give our power or prestige to a cause we have no business in, since doing so may divert us from our primary purpose.

Tradition Seven Affirmation- Let me remember that as God’s agents we are able to be fully self supporting – by His Divine Grace we can be free of outside interference. He will give us all we need to do His Will.

Tradition Eight Affirmation – Let me remember that we were freely given our special gifts so we must share them freely, not as a professional.

Tradition Nine Affirmation- Let me remember that we need to keep an open-mind for His guidance, His flow of love and wisdom, avoiding the closed-mindedness of too many rigid rules or over organization.

Tradition Ten Affirmation – Let me remember that we need to stay focused on our primary purpose, avoiding useless arguments on outside issues.

Tradition Eleven Affirmation- Let me remember that we must walk the talk. Our willingness to be His agent will attract what or whom we need to do His Will. Humility goes hand in hand with this willingness.

Tradition Twelve Affirmation- Let me remember that we need to credit the results to Him – to take off our mask and practice His Principles in all of our affairs.

NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE IMPORTANCE OF SPONSORSHIP, BILL W DIDN’T, NOR SHOULD WE!

24 Jul

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Bill Wilson’s touching gratitude to his Sponsor, Ebby was publicly declared in 1960, at the Long Beach, California Convention of Alcoholics Anonymous, Bill Wilson wrote this dedication in an AA book that he gave to Ebby Thacher.

“Dear Ebby,

No day passes that I do not remember that you brought me the message that saved me – and only God knows how many more.

In affection, Bill”

It was Ebby who found relief from his alcoholism in the simple spiritual practices of the Oxford Group which was an attempt to return to First Century Christianity – before it was complicated and distorted by religious doctrines, dogma and opinions. The program offered by Ebby to Bill involved taking a personal moral inventory, admitting to another person the wrongs we had done, making things right by amends and restitution, and a genuine effort to be of real service to others. In order to obtain the power to overcome these problems, Ebby had been encouraged to call on God, as he understood God, for help.

Bill was deeply impressed by Ebby’s words, but was even more affected by Ebby’s example of action. Here was someone who drank like Bill drank – and yet Ebby was sober, due to a simple religious idea and a practical program of action. The results were an inexplicably different person, fresh-skinned, glowing face, with a different look in his eyes. A miracle sat directly across the kitchen table from Bill. Ebby was not some”do-gooder” who had read something in a book. Here was a hopeless alcoholic who had been completely defeated by John Barleycorn, and yet, had in effect, been raised from the dead. It was a message of hope for an alcoholic – that God would do for us what we could not do for ourselves.

Bill continued to drink in a more restrained way for a short while, and then was admitted to Towns Hospital on December 11, 1934. Ebby visited him there on December 14th and essentially helped Bill take what would become Steps Four, Five, Six, Seven and Eight.

The Four Standards: HONESTY: Is it true or falseIs it true or false? PURITY: Is it right or wrong? UNSELFISHNESS: Is it God directed or self-directed? LOVE: Is it based in faith or fear?

24 Jul

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If you look through the Big Book you will see the thread of the 4 standards of honesty, unselfishness, and love. Bill Wilson early criticized the Four Absolutes as being too tough for alcoholics to swallow, just as he later criticized several other Oxford Group principles and practices. By contrast, Dr. Bob Smith consistently favored application of the Four Absolutes. So did his wife Anne, and the other leaders such as Henrietta Seiberling and T. Henry and Clarace Williams. Today, these absolutes have become all but forgotten.

We have established that God speaks, God has a plan for our lives, and God will reveal this plan to us if we are willing to listen and follow directions. Next, we examine the thoughts that enter our mind when we listen to the “God who
speaks.” How do we know we are listening to the voice of God? How do we distinguish the God thoughts from the self-thoughts?

We are most fortunate, because the Group provides us with a very simple, straightforward way to check what we hear so we can determine the source. The test consists of the Four Standards of Honesty, Purity, Unselfishness and Love.

We can use this test to judge everything we think, say or do. Some people have described these Standards as absolutes or ideals. Whether we call them Standards or absolutes, they are fundamentally sound spiritual principles that are
consistent with the teachings of the major religions of the world:

The Group has four points which are the keys to the kind of spiritual life God
wishes us to lead. These points are:

Honesty
Purity
Unselfishness
Love

(What Is the Oxford Group?, p. 7, edited)

This test was developed by Robert E. Spear. In 1902, he wrote a book titled The Principles of Jesus in which he examined the teachings found in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1 -7:29). He summarized this “design for living” into four categories which he called “points of application.” They were truth, unselfishness, purity and love. Later these principles were modified into the Four Standards as we know them today: Honesty, Purity, Unselfishness and Love.

Victor Kitchen, the author of I was a Pagan, describes the Four Standards as well as their opposites. By looking at both the positive and negative sides of the test, we get a clearer picture of how to separate God’s will from self-will:

He is not made up, like an intellectual giant, of doctor’s degrees and learned societies. He is made up of the simple moral qualities of Honesty, Purity, Unselfishness and Love.

He does not grow more honest or more pure by increasing his knowledge of what is honest and pure. He does not “get that way” through his intellect at all. Nor does he become more honest and pure through his physical prowess and achievements.

All the material possessions I have ever acquired and all the intellectual knowledge I have ever gathered, have not added a single cubit to my moral stature. In fact, if anything, I have grown through the years more dishonest, more impure, more selfish and more unloving than ever.

(I Was a Pagan, pp. 21, 23, edited)

Let us take a closer look at this simple test we can use to separate the God thoughts from the self-thoughts when we are practicing two-way prayer. If what we hear is Honest, Pure, Unselfish and Loving, there is a good chance these thoughts are from God. Conversely, if what we hear is dishonest, impure, selfish and unloving, we can be equally assured these thoughts are from self.

This test can be illustrated as a series of questions to separate God’s will from self-will.

Honesty Is it true or falseIs it true or false?

Purity Is it right or wrong?

Unselfishness Is it God directed or self-directed?

Love Is it based in faith or fear?

As E. Stanley Jones writes in Victorious Living, we need to take actions in order to convert the barriers which separate us from God and those around us to the bridges of two-way prayer and two-way sharing:

The barriers to finding God are not on God’s side, but on ours. Since God is seeking us, then the problem is not of our finding God, but of our letting God find us. We must put ourselves in the way of being found by God. Some of us try to hide from God to avoid being found. The barriers are definitely on our side.

(Victorious Living, p. 35, edited)

Cecil Rose, the author of When Man Listens, summarizes the Four Standards as follows:

Is it True or False?

Honesty? Well, that is not so bad. I do not rob the till, or make fraudulent returns to the Internal Revenue Service. But absolute Honesty? That looks different. Do I make elaborate excuses over something that I have simply forgotten to do? Do I waste my employer’s time by lateness or negligence? Am I completely open with the
members of my family?

(When Man Listens, p. 18, edited)

Is it Right or Wrong?

Purity? What would my thought-life look like projected onto a movie screen?

(When Man Listens, p. 18, edited)

Is it God Directed or Self-Directed?

Unselfishness? Am I thinking of others, or am I only thinking about my own feelings and reputation? Do I get touchy and defensive when people criticize me? And what would my family say about my unselfishness?

(When Man Listens, p. 18, edited)

Is it based in Faith or Fear?

Love? Yes, I know that I did not begin the trouble, and as far as I know, have done nothing to keep it going, but what have I done to end it? And what about my likes and dislikes?

(When Man Listens, pp. 18-19)

Now let us look at each of the Four Standards in more detail.

Honesty

The search for truth is at the heart of our spiritual journey. To discover a great new principle or discard an old prejudice can result in an entirely new outlook on life. When we are not actively seeking truth, we are in danger of letting falsehood control our thoughts. Veracity is as much the source of everlasting life as fallacy is the source of spiritual death. It is the eternal, unrelenting desire for truth that counts. It has to be the focus of our attention.

Over and over we must ask ourselves, “Is it true or is it false? The real virtue in honesty lies in the persistent dedicated striving for it. Our unrelenting pursuit of truth sets us free, even if we do not quite reach our goal. On the other hand, we do not have to pursue the false. All we have to do is relax our pursuit of the truth, and that which is false will find us.

E. Stanley Jones describes honesty in the following manner:

Can we be absolutely trusted in money matters? In our work? With other people’s reputations? sted in money matters? In our work? With other people’s reputations?

It is not easy to be absolutely honest with ourselves because of our tendency to rationalize. This means that we are seldom objective in our attitudes toward ourselves. We set our minds to work, not upon the facts as they are, but upon the business of inventing reasons for our courses of conduct. The mind plays tricks on us. We are self-deceived.

We must be willing to cut out-ruthlessly cut out of our lives-every dishonest thing no matter how deep the embarrassment or humiliation may be.

(Victorious Living, pp. 36, 38, edited)

It is much simpler to appear honest, than to be honest. We must strive to be what we appear to be. It is easier to be honest with others than with ourselves. Our searching and fearless moral inventories are invaluable, because, if we truly
are seekers of truth, we will become more honest by just going through the process.

We must get honest about our tongue, our actions and our attitude. As for our tongue, E. Stanley Jones provides us with this insight:

Are there any conditions under which we will or do tell a lie? Can we be depended on to tell the truth, no matter the cost?

Whether or not we will lie is a test of our character. And yet how easy it is to lie-even for the most spiritual of us: the willingness to twist a meaning to gain a point, to misquote if the misquotation gains an end, exaggerations to make impressions, a lack of complete truth in making appeals for funds, misrepresentations in presenting goods for sale. What is at the basis of this looseness with the truth? Is it not often in the fact that we think a lie is sometimes justifiable?

Hold onto these two principles. First, God cannot lie. Second, God cannot delegate to us the privilege of lying for Him. Truth is sacred. Lies separate us from God’s will. If we still lie, no matter how spiritual we may be, we remain in our old, self-defeating life.

(Victorious Living, pp. 36-37, edited)

But we must not use honesty as a weapon to hurt others. We temper our pursuit of the truth with a genuine concern for
the welfare of others:

Under God’s guidance, truthfulness is tempered with common sense and kindliness. “Love thy neighbor as thyself” is a sufficient test of our motives for honesty. There is no reason why, in our desire to be honest with God, we should hurt other people. God-given discretion is better than our unloving determination to be honest at all costs, mostly other people’s.

(What Is the Oxford Group?, p. 76, edited)

Love is the spring from which all true honesty flows. If we truly love other people, we will be sincere, as well as honest in our dealings with them:

Many people revel in what they think is absolute Honesty. They are convinced that it means telling the bald, unvarnished facts about themselves even if it involves other people. If the truth is without consideration or discretion, it is better to keep a silent tongue and await the decision of our guidance than to blurt out what may be a
truth but a truth which will send a person even farther away from us. Truth should not be destructive, but spiritually constructive. Honesty is not, of necessity, criticism.

(What Is the Oxford Group?, p. 77, edited)

The family must practice honesty if it is to remain united. Deception and avoidance of truthful discussions about hopes, dreams, needs and wants can only lead to emotional separation and, eventually, physical divorce: ruthful discussions about hopes, dreams, needs and wants can only lead to emotional separation and, eventually, physical divorce:

How can any husband or wife live in perfect understanding if either has a secret which, should it come to light from an outside source, will wreck their partnership? Reluctance to be honest about our faults, mistakes or transgressions with the person we are united to by love is lack of faith, not only in that person but also in the
reality of that love. A love which dies because one confesses, with honest motives, a misdeed to the other is not worth having, and any love which can embrace mutual honesty is very near to the ideal which God had for men and women when God ordained marriage.

HOW MUCH FAITH IS NECESSARY TO ACHIEVE PERMANENT SOBRIETY?

23 Jul

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Prominent neurologist, Dr. Silkworth once told Bill Wilson in regards to spiritual solutions: “Anyone who has enough belief to be curious has inherently enough faith to be cured.”

Here is my experience; faith without works may be dead, but with the help of my sponsors direction, participating in my home group service obligations, etc slowly but surely, my “WORK WITHOUT FAITH CREATED FAITH!” – “Faith without works is dead” is quoted four times in the Big Book on pages 14, 76, 88 & 93.

I used to say, “if only I lived when Jesus did and could have seen his miracle healings… Then I most surely could have faith.” Then one day in a meeting I looked around and saw the miracle transformations the program has produced and I realized what the BB said is right – the age of miracles is stíll with us our own recover proves that! Thank God for the program and ALL of you along with God’s grace!

Have faith in your own faith. Have faith enough in yourself to believe that you really have enough faith to move mountains. Is this a strange idea? Probably it is for many people, yet Jesus taught it. People are constantly saying that they wish they had more faith because if they had they could get better results. You have to realize, however, that this attitude of mind is extremely negative. It is affirming, although indirectly, that your faith is very poor—and you know what that means.

The founders of our program used to quote the Bible verse that says the very smallest amount of faith (like a grain of mustard seed) is sufficient. If you have faith enough to pray at all, you have enough faith to start with. If you had no faith, you would not be praying.

Have faith in your own faith, and that in itself will build it up more and more until the work is done. … be not faithless, but believing (John 20:27).

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. That is not our business and, in fact, it is nobody’s business. What we are asked to do is to love, and this love itself will render both ourselves and our neighbors worthy if anything can.~Thomas Merton

21 Jul

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This powerful story sums up how our perception of such areality can change:

There was a blind girl who hated herself because she was blind. She hated everyone except her loving boyfriend. He was always there for her. She told her boyfriend, “If I could see the world, I’d marry you”. One day someone donated a pair of eyes to her. When the bandages came off, she was able to see everything, including her boyfriend. He asked her, “Now that you can see the world, will you marry me?” The girl looked at her boyfriend and saw that he was blind. The sight of his closed eyelids shocked her. She hadn’t expected that. The thought of looking at him for the rest of her life led her to refuse to marry him. Her boyfriend left her in tears and days later wrote a note to her saying; ” Take good care of your eyes, my dear, for before they were yours, they were mine”

This is how the human brain often works when our status changes. Only a very few remember what our life was like before, and who was always by their side in the most painful situations.

3 QUESTION BLESSING GRATITUDE INVENTORY:

1. What have you received from?
2. What have you given to?
3. What troubles and difficulty have you caused?

“In our daily lives we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful but the gratefulness that makes us happy”.

If you decide to cultivate a sense of gratitude, you may find it to be one of the best resolutions you will ever make.We can too easily become identified with goodness–feel that we are ‘the enlightened ones.’ We cease to ask questions about what we are doing, how we are doing it, whether it might be done another way. Not only must we question ourselves; we must create the kind of atmosphere that invites others to question us and to give us feedback on how they perceive and hear and experience us.

Here is an exercise that I practice to inventory my blessings. . . .

A. What did I have to be grateful for?

I shut myself up and started listing the blessings for which I was in no way responsible, beginning with having been born of sound mind and body. I went through seventy-four years of living right up to the present moment. The list ran to two pages, and took two hours to compile; I included health, family, money, fellowship – the whole gamut.

Every day in my prayers, I ask God to help me remember my list, and to be grateful for it throughout the day. When I remember my gratitude list, it’s very hard to conclude that God is picking on me.

Today Heaven or Hell? – Your Choice!!

“Our thoughts are prayers and we are always praying, our thoughts are prayers, listen to what we’re saying. Seek a higher consciousness, a place of peacefulness and know that God is always there. Then every thought becomes a prayer.”Whatever you experience in your life is really but the out-picturing of your own thoughts and beliefs. Now, you can change these thoughts and beliefs, and then the outer picture must change too. The outer picture cannot change until you change your thought. Your real heartfelt conviction is what you out-picture or demonstrate, not your mere pious opinions or formal assents.Convictions cannot be adopted arbitrarily just because you want a healing. They are built up by the thoughts you think and the feelings you entertain day after day as you go through life.

So, it is your habitual mental conduct that weaves the pattern of your destiny for you, and is not this just as it should be?

So no one else can keep you out of your kingdom – or put you into it either. The story of your life is really the story of the relations between yourself and God.

WHAT HAS AA GIVEN YOU?

21 Jul

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A hospitalized terminally ill oldtimer sent word that he wanted me to come visit him. I went there and he wanted to talk to me before he passed on and talk about his gratitude for the life AA had given him. My wife and I sat and talked with him as he lay on his deathbed with confident peaceful calm. I asked him what AA had given him? I will never forget the look on his smiling face as he paused in silence and thought eventually saying, “AA has given me OPPORTUNITY!” my wife and i cried as did he… I will never forget that and it was the last time I ever saw Buck… But before I left Buck gave me his 1st AA chip he got in AA. I carry it with me Always in my wallet and when i get discouraged I put his chip in my hand and remember the last words Buck ever told me:

“AA has given me OPPORTUNITY!”