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A Brief Outline for Advancing God's Kingdom in the Recovery Circles

Psalm 96:2-3

Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!

Step Twelve

Having had a spiritual experience-through grace-as we try to carry this message to others and practice these principles in all our affairs

1. Start by caring (Matthew 9:35-38)

Until we learn to care about the spread of God's glorious Kingdom, we will never work for reformation in the Recovery circles. God's Cause is the greatest Cause we can devote our time to, period! The Kingdom is foremost in the mind of God, so why should it be second place in our thinking? When we become consumed with the glory of God, we'll live to see Him honored, in all areas of life, including the rooms of Recovery. Nothing is off-limits for God. No organization is beyond His reach.

We would do well to remember, Secular Recovery is full of unchurched/unsaved people from all walks of life, with different world views which promote false conceptions of God (Romans 1:20-23). Earthly sobriety is a sure gift of God's common grace, but without belief in Christ, there is no hope for eternal Recovery. Generic "higher powers" are powerless to save (Isaiah 45:20). Sobriety does not equal salvation. Doorknobs open doors, not heaven.

Our mission is to be salt (for healing) and light (for guidance) (Matthew 5:13-14) for Christ, in a society shrouded by the darkness of atheism, Agnosticism, New Ageism, and Humanism. If Christians took this blessed duty more seriously, we could see revival in the rooms of Recovery. God would bless our efforts, causing conversions by the thousands, as we call the 12 Step circles out from spiritual ineffectiveness, back to their Biblical roots (Mathew 5-7, the Book of James, and 1 Corinthians 13) and the Gospel Triumphalism[1] of the Oxford Group.

Just think where you would be today if nobody cared enough to share the Gospel with you? How would that have affected your life? If we're going to aid in repairing the world for the honor of Christ, we need to see and internalize the dilapidated state of our surrounding cultures. We ought to remove our stained-glass-window-blinders and see all the walking dead (Ephesians 2:1-3) in the Anonymous programs. See them, and be moved with loving-pity, just like Christ was for His local culture. Empathy will move us to action. If it doesn't, we might want to check our hearts.

2. Remain humble (Matthew 5:3; James 2:5)

God loves to use men and women who are well acquainted with their spiritual poverty. These are those who understand just how unworthy they are of God's Kingdom. They embrace their powerlessness, turning to Christ for strength to live and success in outreach. It takes a group of "nobodies", like the twelve Apostles, to do something wonderful for the glory of God. The meek (humble) inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5), not the self-sufficient (Luke 6:24). The spiritually poor live for the glory of Christ, not their meager personalities.

1 Corinthians 1:26-29

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.

3. Begin with your sphere of influence (Matthew 9:9-10)

Your sphere of influence is made up of those nearest and dearest to your heart. It consists of those who confide in you, because they have some level of interest in or respect for your worldview. These would be your friends, peers, or members of 12 Step meetings you regularly attend who “want what you have”. Because they know you, they trust you and are open to dialogues about the Gospel. Here, rapport is everything.

You've got to start somewhere, right? Why not start close to home? Share the Gospel in your micro-cultures, then work at expanding that culture for the glory of God. "Do not despise a humble beginning" (Zech 4:10), but don't be afraid to trust God for greater ministry success. The truly "open-minded" members of the Recovery community are ripe for the picking. God has reformed us for the very special task of ministering the Good News in our immediate 12 Step circles. So, let's get to work!

4. Pray often (Matthew 6:9-10)

For this point, the Bible speaks for itself. As long as we are above dirt, breathing sober air, and pursuing the will of God, through grace, we are strongly encouraged to pray for Gospel Victory in all our affairs.

Matthew 6:9-10

Pray then like this: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Romans 10:1

Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.

Colossians 4:2-3a

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word.

5. Put God's Kingdom first (Matthew 6:33)

Nothing is more important than God and His glorious Kingdom. It is worthy of our dedication, it is worthy of our passions. It is first and foremost in the mind of God, thus it should be our number one priority. Here, I don’t mind being redundant because this point can never be overstressed.

God promises to provide for us as we work to spread the Kingdom in all of our affairs. Those who work for justice will be satisfied (Matthew 5:6). If we commit our hearts and hands to bringing reformation to the Recovery circles, God will not let us down. He'll provide the power. He'll provide the victory. We just need to show up, put our boots on the pavement, and walk in it! But we'll never do that if the Kingdom remains on the back-burner as self-centered desires consume our time.

"First things first"[1], a popular saying in the 12 Step community, has its origins in Christ's words in Matthew 6:33, "Seek first the Kingdom of heaven". Gospel Advance is basic to Christ-centered 12 Step Recovery and is the fullest expression of the Twelfth Step. This is why we have been recreated in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17, 20). We're not saved merely for our enjoyment, but to further the glory of God. The 12 Step community is our number one mission field, not home base, not a dugout, not our social club. Learn to put the "first things" of God "first", and amazing things will come about.

6. Read the Bible, believe the Bible, Practice the Bible (Matthew 7:24-25)

Christians are meant to read the Bible. What an amazing concept! But, how many of us neglect this blessed duty? How long has your Bible been collecting dust on the nightstand next to your head? Do the right thing, pick it up, blow the dust off (make sure not to do it in your spouse's face), and dig in. Start by reading Matthew 5-7, the Book of James, 1 Corinthians 13 (those sections which inspired the 12 Steps) and then move onto the Book of Acts. If you read two or three chapters a day, you'll feel right as rain. The Scriptures will challenge you, change you (1 Thessalonians 2:13), bless you (Psalm 1), fill you with hope (Romans 15:4) and teach you how to rightly advance the Kingdom in the Recovery circles (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Next, trust every word you read. All 66 books of the Bible-the Old and New Testaments-were written for a reason. Nothing is in there by mistake. The Bible is a firm foundation for living. Build your life upon it. Believe it and put it into action. That, my friend, is how we will bring about reformation in The Recovery circles. Biblical principles are meant to be read, believed, and practiced in all of our affairs. The Scriptures are our flawless guide to knowing Christ and advancing God's glorious Kingdom. “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of Truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

James 1:22-25

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

7. Remember (Matthew 16:18)

As Christians, we are destined for victory. Jesus Christ has declared He will build His Church and nothing, including addiction or Humanism or Secularism, will hinder His mission.

Bring this truth to mind when you feel you are on the losing side of the spiritual campaign. Always remember God is in control (Ephesians 1:11). He is working everything for His glory and our good (Romans 8:28). If God determines to bring mass revival to the rooms of Recovery, nothing will stand in His way. Our God is constantly victorious. Christ has ransomed people "from every tribe and language and people and nation" (Revelation 5:9). Why would we think that doesn't include large amounts of people from the 12 Step community? Secular Recovery is no match for our matchless Savior who reigns and rules in heaven.

Change always takes time (Deuteronomy 7:22). Reformation is never an overnight matter (Exodus 23:30). We may have to labor for years before we see any real transformation in our surrounding areas. We must not be easily discouraged. We must not become obsessed with numbers. The key is patience and trust in the power of God: He is working, even when we don't see what's going on.

Matthew 13:31-32

The Kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.

8. Plant more groups (Acts 2:42-47)

More groups can optimize our potential for outreach. These groups ought to be Gospel centered, exalting Christ as the sole way to God (John 14:6), to cut away the ambiguities which often derail modern day Secular Recovery groups. Our Christian gatherings should not add to the confusion. As Bible believing individuals, we have the true conception of God revealed to us in the pages of Scriptures, and the blessed duty of sharing that Truth with the entire world.

Christ centered Recovery groups serve as a great way of introducing people to the Christian faith. I know not everybody reading this document will engage in personal evangelism nor will most of you pioneer a group of you own. Yet, everybody reading this document can invite a friend in Recovery to a Christ focused fellowship. Since the Word of God is being taught and the true conception of God is being promoted, the individuals who are invited will be exposed to the Gospel, maybe for the first time, or maybe for a much needed reconsidering. Either way, they will hear the Good News and the Holy Spirit will do His job, using the Scriptures (Hebrews 4:12) to hack away at the biases and resentments which keep men from falling in love with Christ.

I am sure many reading this came to believe upon Christ through involvement with a similar group. Those of us walking in the light of faith get to pass that experience onto others so they can turn their will and their lives “over to the care of God" (Step Three). I hope all of us take this privilege more seriously tomorrow than we did today.

These meetings should have plenty of Biblical literature on hand, along with other books and pamphlets which tell the unrevised history of the 12 Step movement. It's important to know our roots, so we can effectively defend them when we face opposition from Atheist and Humanists in the Secular meetings.

Here is a brief list of helpful resources which tell the true roots of the 12 Step movement:

  1. DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers. New York: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1980.

  2. The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous. New York: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1972.

  3. The Good Book and The Big Book: A.A.’s Roots in the Bible. B., Dick. 2d ed., Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 1997.

Like the AA literature rack at the local fellowship says, "Let literature carry the message, too". We never know what God can accomplish with a good book in an open hand.

On this point, John Piper writes:

Giving away good Christian literature is one way of extending your personal witness about the gospel…Wherever I can, I want to commend Christ. I want to tell the story that God uses to give people life. Put something in your pocket, your purse, your briefcase, your car. And pray every day, Lord, make me an instrument of gospel-spreading today. Use me to open the eyes of the blind[1].

9. Be involved with meetings (2 Corinthians 10:4-5)

The path to gaining influence over the local Recovery community starts at meeting level. The secretary effectively controls the mood of the meeting. The secretary selects the speaker and the speaker selects the discussion topics. If the secretary selects Secular speakers, the speakers will naturally select Secular topics. If the secretary chooses a speaker who is a Bible-based Christian, that individual should choose topics which steer the discussion towards those things which magnify God and advance His Kingdom. Christians in Recovery ought to do their best to seek out speakers they know will glorify Christ at meeting level. This isn't rocket science.

Change always starts out small, but it can expand to bigger platforms. What works at meeting level can be applied to the meeting house as a whole. Christians can group up with the intentions of gaining influence over the meeting house by installing believers in positions of leadership, through approved methods. The more believers involved in the group, the more Christians you have leading those meeting halls into true Biblical principles, not Humanism, not Secularism, not Liberalism, not New Ageism. Reform starts in the individual heart, but it spreads out as more believers come together with a Godly purpose in mind. We can practice dominion (Genesis 1:26-28) over the Recovery fellowships by intentionally using the tools the 12 Step circles have laid out at our feet. All we have to do is pick them up and use them for the glory of God. Atheists and Agnostics are doing this all over the area, why shouldn't we? Why should we sit back and watch the God-deniers take over the Recovery rooms? The further we get from the Biblical God, the further we are from the principles of traditional 12 Step Recovery.

10. Act in Love (Romans 12:9-10)

Remember, Reformation, Kingdom growth, and social justice are all about:

A. Love for God

B. Love for the truth

C. Love for our fellows

When we neglect love in any of these areas, we become little less than mistuned instruments (1 Corinthians 13:1) that hinder the Cause of God, instead of helping it.

The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous says it best, "Our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God and the people about us[1]". This doesn't flow from hostility or resentment, it can't. It only flows from goodwill towards God and our fellow humans. The Kingdom of God is not advanced though hatred or bitterness, but by compassionate souls which express themselves through deeds of kindness.

2 Corinthians 5:14, 20

"The love of Christ controls us...we implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God

John 13:34-35

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

1 John 3:18

Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

I declare, because the Bible make its abundantly clear, the most loving thing we can do is assist in directing those dearest to our hearts away from their misunderstandings of God, to the true and living God (1 Thessalonians 1:4) of the Scriptures (Galatians 6:1; James 5:19-20).

[1] Alcoholics Anonymous. Fourth Edition. (New York: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 2001), pg. 77

[1] John Piper. FINALLY ALIVE: What Happens When We Are Born Again. (Minneapolis, Minnesota: The Desiring God Foundation, 2009), pp. 182-183

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